Ayoken raises $1.4M to grow its NFT marketplace for creatives

Ayoken, an NFT marketplace for creatives, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding to enable users to grow their income streams through digital collectibles. The startup’s marketplace, Ayokenlabs, will feature digital collectibles from musicians, sports brands and influencers from around the world. Ayoken founder and CEO Joshua King told TechCrunch that the marketplace is a bridge between fans and artists, giving fans a sense of ownership in their idols’ success. Through the NFT marketplace, he said, fans will have access to tokens like behind-the-scenes videos and album art. NFT holders will also get other perks like access to unreleased music and exclusive live events from creatives. “Through VIP passes, fans will have the ability to live stream music from these artists before it hits Spotify, YouTube or Apple Music. Fans will also get discounts for future events,” said King, who has 14 years of experience in strategy consulting, growth and innovation, and entrepreneurship. His career includes helping to scale AZA (Bitpesa), a Nairobi-based platform that leverages bitcoin to facilitate cross-border remittances, and where he was first introduced to crypto and blockchain technology. King said Ayoken will release NFTs from some of the biggest African artists and others around the world in the coming months. The London-based startup has already teamed up with Ghanaian Afrobeats artist KiDi (Dennis Nana Dwamena) for his first performance on NFT on the first day of June. King said the cross-chain marketplace (although currently based on the Avalanche blockchain) allows crypto and card payments, but plans to add mobile money as the startup makes it easier for people in emerging markets like Africa to trade. easily. King said they are negotiating partnerships with a number of telcos on the mainland to make this a reality. “We are reducing friction points for users by allowing people to use their cards instead of having to use crypto to buy, we are working on partnerships with telcos that will allow people to use mobile money to make payments in the future. also. Nothing comes close to what we’re doing and that’s why we’re able to sign some of the biggest names in the creative industry,” he said. Users will earn token (Ayo) rewards when they buy the NFTs or refer people, which they can later redeem for an NFT. King said that unlike other NFT marketplaces, they have distribution partners including YouTubers, influencers, newsletters, crypto exchanges, and telecommunications to promote NFT drops, allowing creatives to reach a broader audience, And not just his fan base. “What this means is that celebrities don’t have to rely on their social media following to drive transactions. They get instant access to millions of people around the world at the touch of a button. And our approach is very different from any other NFC market on the planet. we also have a marketing agency to help these creatives succeed in their first NFT launches,” said King. “They (distribution partners) will earn a revenue share based on the transactions generated on their social media promotions.” Using funds raised from investors including Founders Factory Africa, Texas-based Kon Ventures, Europe-based venture capital collective Crypto League, Ghana-based R9C Ventures and Maximus Ventures, Ayoken plans to sign a series of exclusive agreements with artists and alliances with telcos, in addition to growing its team and secondary markets. “Most of the funds will go to buying exclusive licenses and building our technology team, that is, developers and engineers times four,” he said.