Miami Tech & Startup News

Web3 for good, blockchain construction, rising VC, and more: Here are our 5 trends in the #CryptoCapital

Web3 for good, blockchain construction, rising VC, and more: Here are our 5 trends in the #CryptoCapital

By Riley Kaminer and Nancy Dahlberg

It may be crypto winter in some parts of the world. But in Miami, many corners of the crypto community are (almost) as hot as our August weather.

We’ve been busy covering Miami’s top web3 stories. Missed out on any? Don’t worry – here’s a rundown of 5 don’t-miss trends in the #cryptocapital.

1. Web3 as a force for good

Increasingly, we’re seeing founders leverage web3 as a tool for creating positive social change. These companies are doing well while doing good, no doubt – all with Miami in the backdrop. 

One company that encapsulates this trend is The Giving Block, which is bringing philanthropy into the web3 space by enabling nonprofits to accept crypto donations. The company has already begun to have an impact on this $471 billion industry, having accepted around $70 million in donations last year alone.

“We began to realize what a huge donor demographic crypto users would become, and how very few nonprofits at the time were even thinking about crypto – much less accepting it,” co-founder Alex Wilson told Refresh Miami in May. The Giving Block’s infrastructure has enabled upwards of 2,000 charities to accept crypto.

The Giving Block co-founders Pat Duffy, left, and Alex Wilson.

Miami founders are also harnessing the powers of the blockchain to create positive social outcomes.

Take BH Compliance, for example. The Chilean-born startup, led by Susana Sierra, has developed a blockchain-based platform to monitor and measure compliance programs for companies. Meanwhile, Spanish startup ClimateTrade moved their headquarters to Miami amidst plans to expand their decarbonization platform stateside. ClimateTrade uses blockchain technology to power its marketplace for carbon offsets.

BH Compliance CEO Susana Sierra

The international focus of these web3-for-good companies doesn’t stop there. Wayru raised a $1.96 million seed round to deploy a decentralized network of internet service providers in areas of developing nations such as Ecuador that currently lack internet connectivity.

2. “Building” on the blockchain goes physical with construction startups

Construction is a constant in South Florida life. So it’s only natural that a smattering of startups have begun to develop web3 tools for the construction industry.

DigiBuild in July landed $4 million in seed funding for its blockchain-based construction management platform. The startup’s main product, DigiProcure, is a material management and procurement tool that automates administrative processes for contractors. 

The blockchain aspect of DigiBuild’s platform facilitates communication among the dozens of companies involved in each construction project. “Each different business party has a different version of the same paperwork,” co-founder and CEO Robert Salvador told Refresh Miami. Moving this all onto the blockchain will create a single source of truth – streamlining and digitizing this mountain of paperwork.

One month earlier, Rigor landed a $3.5 million seed round to develop their platform for community lending and instant payments for new home construction. They leverage the blockchain to simplify loan origination and administrative processes, offering increased transparency along the way.

3. NFT market shows signs of cooling down

Compared to the glut of news we saw earlier this year, it seems like the Miami NFT scene is experiencing a bit of a summer slump. (Or maybe NFT founders have just escaped the South Florida heat?) That said, there have still been some notable moves in the NFT space.

OneOf CEO Lin Dai

OneOf recently announced an $8 million fundraise to bring more musicians, athletes, and brands to their NFT marketplace. This infusion of capital will ultimately help the startup play its part in onboarding 100 million users into the NFT and blockchain space. On top of signing deals with influential figures such as Wayne Gretzky and Doja Cat, OneOf has made a name for themselves by developing a platform that is both more environmentally- and user-friendly than its rivals.

In June, Only Gems launched its front-end marketplace for consumers to buy, sell, trade, and mint NFT trading cards. Collectors can entrust their physical cards to the Fort Lauderdale-based startup and then mint an NFT version, creating a digital asset on the Ethereum blockchain.

Refresh Miami caught up with RECUR co-founder and CEO Zach Bruch at Permissionless in Palm Beach. The scaleup is helping major brands like Paramount and Nickelodeon launch their very own NFT experiences. Now, RECUR has expanded access to their platform, sharing their special sauce for NFT success with smaller brands and creators.

RECUR

4. Miami’s metaverse scene matures

Two trends are emerging from the Miamis’s maturing metaverse scene.

Trend #1: The metaverse is fun.

Chilean VR startup InBattle set up shop in Miami to launch a free-roaming gaming experience in Wynwood’s newest VR arena [pictured at top of post]. The company has also set up an office for its dev team right adjacent to the arena to maximize opportunities for user feedback.

Meanwhile, The Mirror has developed a platform for users to build, learn, and play in the metaverse. Founder Jared McCluskey, an OpenStore alum, highlighted the interoperability of the platform as a key differentiator. “This creates possibilities that have never existed before,” McCluskey told Refresh Miami.

The Mirror

Trend #2: The metaverse is functional.

Take YUPIX, which is bringing the high-end real estate game into the 21st century by building immersive virtual experiences for real estate buyers. They’ve already helped Property Markets Group close $700 million in sales for their E11EVEN Hotel & Residences.

Mytaverse has also build immersive digital environments – but this time for businesses who, for example, want to showcase a product or hold a virtual event. The platform is hardware agnostic, meaning users can fire it up on any device they already have, including their computer or mobile phone. The startup has raised $10.3 million thus far and counts companies such as Pepsi and architect Zaha Hadid as clients.

5. SoFla funding rounds bring on the heat to crypto winter

BAYC

Venture capital rounds for South Florida startups focused on blockchain, crypto and/or NFTs are sizzling hot, even with the recent market crashes of cryptocurrencies that ushered in the so-called crypto winter. So far this year, at least $836 million in funding rounds across 24 deals have been announced – about a quarter of all VC dollars flowing to South Florida companies. Sleepy summer? No chance: $105 million of that came in just in the past month. Notably, the activity to date is already ahead of the pace of  2021, when $859 million was raised by 23 Miami metro area companies.

Of course, 2022 got off to a strong start and we can thank our favorite Apes for swinging in a good bit of that: Yuga Labs raised the biggest round of the year, raising $450 million led by a16z. Larger fundings this summer included Miami startups OnChain Studios $23M Series A, also led by a16z, to bring those adorable Cryptoys to digital life, as well as beloved Mattel brands; Zigazoo’s $17M celebrity-studded A round to expand its safe, positive social media network for kids; and Halborn’s $90M round to keep the blockchain safe. We’re hearing a couple more large rounds are on the runway.

 On the money side of things, there also has been big news this summer. Andreessen Horowitz, which launched a record-breaking $4.5 billion crypto fund in May, said it would be opening an office in Miami Beach, taking over an entire floor with a private terrace in the new Starwood Capital Group headquarters building at 2340 Collins Avenue by year’s end. “Establishing a long-term presence in Miami Beach helps us expand our work in the area to collaborate with founders in new ways, build lasting relationships, and support the area’s already thriving tech community,” Phil Hathaway, a16z’s COO, said last month. Also, Protagonist, a crypto fund and incubation lab, announced the launch of its $100 million fund dedicated to investing in web3 protocols

Will the #CryptoCapital continue to turn up the funding heat or cool off? Stay tuned.

READ MORE RECENT #CRYPTOCAPITAL NEWS ON REFRESH MIAMI:

Riley Kaminer