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Singapore-based anime tech startup BlockPunk announced that it has raised $1.3 million SGD in a seed funding round led by SeedPlus. The round was joined by SGInnovate, Hustle Fund, Entrepreneur First and Japan’s largest printing company Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd, with whom they have a strategic partnership. The funds will be used to expand the engineering team and develop product.
The BlockPunk platform allows any creator to turn their digital artwork into scarce collectible merchandise. It uses blockchain to create proof of authenticity and a new source of income for creators. BlockPunk’s beachhead is the $20 billion global anime industry and was founded by Julian Lai-Hung, former head of anime at Netflix, and Jatin Shah, a Yale Ph.D. in computer science and former product manager at LinkedIn. Content from creators such as Ishimori Pro (Cyborg009), Kazuto Nakazawa (Kill Bill, B the Beginning) and Zunda Horizon (Tohoku Zunko) are already live, with more in the pipeline.
“Anime merchandise supply is broken. Fans want to consume merchandise globally as soon as the anime is streamed online but merchandise is rarely available due to fragmentation and supply chain issues. Unlicensed products have become the norm to match this demand. Our solution allows any creator to instantly create official collectible merchandise that is available worldwide,” said Julian. “With our strategic partnership with DNP, a $14 billion revenue world leader in printing technologies, we will extend our technology to physical merchandise in addition to digital.”
“The Japanese government has identified blockchain as a key infrastructure for protecting creator rights and we look forward to working with BlockPunk to apply this to Japan’s anime, art and entertainment industries,” according to a statement from Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd.
“BlockPunk enables new levels of transparency and efficiency in protecting creator and owner IP rights. We are very excited to invest and support the team in this important mission,” said Michael Smith, managing partner at SeedPlus.
About SeedPlus https://www.seedplus.com/
SeedPlus is a Singapore-based seed-stage venture firm that invests S$500k to 1M in early-stage companies on market terms. Once the investment is in place, SeedPlus works together with founders to grow to profit or the next round of funding through a key growth network supported by full-time operating partners. Seedplus LPs include Jungle Ventures, Eight Roads, Cisco, Accel Partners and SGInnovate.
About Entrepreneur First (EF) https://www.joinef.com/
EF is a talent investor, founded in London in 2011 by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck to support the world’s most ambitious individuals to build globally important companies.
EF’s bespoke programme, the first of its kind in the world, invests time and money in outstanding individuals, helping them to find a co-founder, develop an idea and create a high-growth technology company from scratch. To date, EF has helped over 1,200 individuals build more than 200 companies, with a total valuation of US$1.5 billion. EF’s companies have been funded by many of the leading venture investors in Europe, Asia and Silicon Valley.
EF itself is backed by some of the world’s best investors, including the founders of LinkedIn, DeepMind and PayPal and runs cohorts in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Berlin, Paris and Bangalore. Major exits to date include Magic Pony – which sold to Twitter for a reported $150 million just 18 months after the founders met on EF – Avocarrot, Represent and BloomsburyAI.
About SGInnovate www.sginnovate.com
SGInnovate is a private limited company wholly owned by the Singapore government. At SGInnovate, we believe that Singapore has all the resources and capabilities needed to tackle “hard problems” that matter to people around the world. As part of our Deep Tech Nexus Strategy, we are focused on adding tangible value to the Singapore deep tech startup ecosystem in two key areas – development of Human Capital and deployment of Investment Capital. With the support of our partners and co-investors, we back deeply technical founders through equity-based investments, access to talent and support in building customer traction. Our efforts are prioritised around transformational technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and MedTech, which represent impactful and scalable answers to global challenges.
About Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd. http://www.dnp.co.jp/eng/
DNP was founded in 1876 and is one of the world’s largest printing technology companies. DNP serves around 30,000 corporate clients in Japan and internationally touching millions of consumers across multiple printing and IT products and services. In recent years, DNP has a renewed focus on promoting the distribution of Japanese anime, manga and game content across digital and physical media and supporting the creator community through the “FUN’S PROJECT,” a collaboration project with Japanese creators. In addition, DNP operates the Tokyo Anime Center in the DNP Plaza in Tokyo as a focal point for appreciation and promotion of anime culture.
About Hustle Fund https://www.hustlefund.vc/
Hustle Fund is a pre-seed/seed-stage fund based in San Francisco and Singapore. Their core investment strategy is to invest in teams who demonstrate relentless speed. Hustle Fund is led by Elizabeth Yin, Eric Bahn and Shiyan Koh. The trio met 18 years ago at Stanford University and have collaborated ever since. Hustle Fund’s LPs include Shanda, LINE and Naver, as well as a broad range of Silicon Valley technology executives.
About BlockPunk https://blockpunk.net/
BlockPunk is an entertainment startup that uses blockchain to give creators more control over their digital rights. BlockPunk enables any creator to easily sell collectible merchandise. We use Blockchain so fans can claim true digital ownership. We launched the world’s first sale of anime crypto goods and have partnerships with leading anime producers from Japan. BlockPunk is leading the decentralization of the film/TV industry with anime as its beachhead.
Julian Lai-Hung was head of anime and Japan content at Netflix and VP of digital distribution at Warner Bros. A Wharton MBA, he also co-founded Digital Magic Labs, an internet pioneer in Japan. Jatin Shah is an expert in distributed systems with a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Yale University and a BTech in Computer Science from IIT. Jatin joined the Linkedin product team in Silicon Valley pre-IPO and has led product and data science teams at Yahoo, InMobi and Quikr.
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