The teams homed in on infrastructure, gaming, decentralized social media and DeFi
Beacon, an early-stage web3 accelerator program, held its second cohort graduation on Wednesday. The demo day launched in tandem with its VC database, which opened to the public amid ongoing capital restraints in a bear market.
The teams in the second cohort, its Summer 2023 group (Cohort S23), presented their startups during the demo day, exclusively covered by TechCrunch+. We also covered its first Cohort demo day in January, which it styled as “Cohort 0.” That one featured 13 startups.
Cohort S23 consists of 10 companies, built by 25 founders across three countries and 12 cities. Unlike Y Combinator, Beacon doesn’t select only the companies that are the most nascent. “The accelerator focuses on web3 but looks at everything within the industry from pre-seed and Series A,” said Sam Lehman, core contributor at Beacon.
The three-month program runs twice a year and accepts about 15 to 20 applicants for its fall and spring cohorts.
Kenzi Wang, another core contributor for Beacon, shared that the cohort had about 40 mentors, including: Jack Lu, CEO and co-founder of Magic Eden; Neil Cunha-Gomes, head of EMEA fintech at SoftBank Vision Fund; and Dan Kim, VP of business development at Coinbase. Venture capitalists from CoinFund, Variant, Electric Capital, Pantera, Lightspeed, Galaxy Interactive and others also served as mentors.
Prospective startups are not tied to any particular blockchain, making Beacon’s program open to anyone in the crypto market. “We definitely take a multi-chain future view at Beacon, so most of our projects are building multi-chain or chain-agnostic products,” Lehman said in an email to TechCrunch+. “That said, stuff in the EVM world is definitely still the hottest.”
The startups focused on a range of crypto subsectors like infrastructure, gaming, decentralized social media and DeFi, to name a few. The majority of the startups in the cohort are seed stage, with two at pre-seed and one company, Phaver, at Series A.
But the new startup group (notes below) was not all that Beacon had on offer this week.
Sharing fund data
Beacon VC Database is a tool initially used internally by the group to help founders in its accelerator program find funds actively deploying capital into web3 startups. As of today, the platform features over 200 funds, including generalist funds with a crypto arm like a16z and Lightspeed, along with pure crypto-focused funds invested in the space like Dragonfly and Blockchain Capital. It also includes micro funds around $10 million to mega funds with over $1 billion in assets under management, Lehman noted.
“We built it because we kept hearing the same questions: ‘Which funds are deploying into game content right now?’ or ‘Do you know any funds that would lead a round for a security focused company at a seed stage?’” Lehman said. While venture databases are not rare — PitchBook, Crunchbase, Dealroom, etc. — they are often generalized and thus less precise for subniche categories of a startup.
Beacon plans to progressively decentralize the database over time to allow investors to “claim” their records to update it in real time, the accelerator said in a statement.
Beacon’s S23 Cohort
Company name: Cube3.AI
- What it does: Real-time web3 security platform
- Founders: Einaras Gravrock, Chris Griffiths
- Stage: Seed
- The pitch: Cube3.AI is building a real-time web3 transaction security solution. It uses AI to inspect contracts deployed on chain for risks and exploits, Einaras Gravrock, co-founder of Cube3.AI, said during demo day. Attacks will continue to happen, Gravrock said, but Cube3.AI aims to be a “mousetrap to save DeFi and web3” from attackers. It focuses on sectors like marketplaces, bridges, gaming and NFTs and works to identify threats with smart contracts before attacks happen, so other entities can better protect themselves. It also provides applications with services to block exploits, instead of pausing the app itself, so users are not impeded during security-related issues. Its software requires no coding skills and users can get it up and running within 60 seconds, according to its website. It’s looking for $2 million in additional capital and has a “good chunk” already committed, Gravrock said.
Company name: Ryu Games
- What it does: Building “Steam” for web3
- Founders: Rick Ellis, Wyatt Mufson, Ross Krasner
- Stage: Seed
- The pitch: Ryu Games is building a protocol to decentralize everything that makes up a game and become the “Steam of web3.” The startup’s chief product officer, Rick Ellis, is an original inventor and founder of Steam. “The way people find and play games hasn’t changed much since digital distribution has started,” Ross Krasner, co-founder and CEO of Ryu Games, said during demo day. But now, web3 platforms like Ryu are attempting to disrupt gaming distribution. The startup is building a network of interconnected game stores and launchers with low fees and plans to decentralize user-generated content in the future. Its public beta is currently open and the protocol’s first store and launcher is live. The startup is looking for investors for a strategic round.
Company name: Wasabi
- What it does: Derivative infra for NFTs
- Founders: Eren Derman, Kemal Hasan Atay
- Stage: Seed
- The pitch: Wasabi is an audited NFT options protocol that wants to create more liquid NFT economies by leveraging market volatility, hedging against price declines and helping users earn premiums on NFTs (but did not disclose how). The protocol is live on Ethereum’s mainnet and currently has about $750,000 in liquidity locked into its pools and a total of 18,598 options available, according to its website. The startup is interoperable, meaning it can support decentralized applications that work with options, derivatives and metamarkets. It has over $1 million in trade volume and is currently raising $2 million for its seed round.