Requests for Startups: Crypto Projects We’d Like to See in 2024
As soon as we returned to the office in the new year, we started talking about the projects we’d be thrilled to fund in 2024. Here are our requests for startups (RFS), spanning consumer payments UX, DeFi tooling, gaming, betting and prediction markets, and much more.
We’re excited to see these areas get developed this year and beyond. And if you’re building in one of these areas—or working on other crypto ideas—please reach out: [email protected].
Crypto payments infrastructure
The opportunity to improve payments globally by leveraging crypto is large. Yet it remains challenging for users and developers to make payments with crypto and move between crypto and traditional payments rails. Within the crypto payments value chain there are many opportunities to eliminate friction for developers, users, and merchants.
In the medium term, the distinction between crypto and traditional finance will disappear as much of the two systems converge. There remain opportunities to build highly performant financial applications and infrastructure that take full advantage of the capabilities of crypto and serve existing crypto users while over time onboarding new users, including institutions.
Consumer-focused trading with amazing UX
There’s a very large design space for apps that build a hyper-engaging experience around buying and selling crypto. Current and future users would benefit from having more options for how they interact with crypto.
—Geoff Hamilton, investment partner
Blockchains make two types of information markets significantly easier to create: markets to access existing information and markets to create new information. The former is about pricing access / removing information asymmetries; an example might be paying for attestations about selective consumer behaviors or demographics. The latter focuses on making previously unobservable information observable via unique aggregation of existing data or mechanisms to facilitate new rates of exchange. Examples in this category may look like novel structures for pricing risk, participation in onchain simulations, or prediction markets with real liquidity. The financialization of information has already been seen in systems like Friend.tech’s keyholder rooms, Polymarket, and Arkham’s Intel Exchange as a new way to assign value to information that has previously been difficult to uncover.
Product-led payment apps, especially experiments with micropayments
These would be apps where leveraging crypto rails creates an opportunity to access a new or expanded market: a global audience that would normally be priced out by currency conversion fees, a large set of users who have lower willingness to pay than traditional subscribers (but make up for it in volume), etc. It could also look like something as simple as a reinvention of movie tickets with crypto rails under the hood.
Subdomains in particular feel underutilized. These are digital resources with verifiable ownership. Issuing subdomains from a trusted party (e.g. a parent organization) can help prove an entity’s legitimacy. Charities are a prime example: the FTC estimates that hundreds of millions are lost in charity fraud each year. A trusted issuer granting verifiable subdomains to registered charities could create a useful log of which organizations are actually legitimate.
—Alana Levin, investment partner
Privacy infrastructure is in an extremely early phase, still being built. The category is exciting from its sheer size. I firmly believe the majority of onchain state will be private in the long run, as it introduces advantages for market efficiency, security, and consumer preferences. Solutions leveraging FHE, ZK, MPC, and TEEs all come with different sets of trade-offs, making each ideal for different sets of applications. The design space at the infrastructure layer is vast, and the opportunity set is massive.
Uniswap V4 hook-enabled marketplaces
One of the most exciting new design spaces in DeFi has clearly emerged: Uniswap V4 hooks, which are plugins for designing pools with unique features and functions, such as new auction mechanisms, fee designs, and much more. Onchain and offchain liquidity is becoming increasingly blurred with the release of intents-based trading protocols such as UniswapX. Thus, hooks are becoming the new frontier of mechanism design in DeFi; they’re an effort to make onchain liquidity more competitive with CEX liquidity, which DEX traders can now tap into.
—Derek Walkush, investment partner
Attention betting apps
Top creators like Mr. Beast create videos with views that rival the eyeballs of NFL games. Fantasy games and betting already exist around sports, but now social media and players of “the great online game” (e.g. creators) are large enough to have their own betting and prediction experiences. Think of it as sports betting for social media, on crypto rails.
Stepn showcased the potential of crypto lifestyle games that leverage mobile-first web2-esque experiences, gamified IRL activity (e.g. running), and subscription-based assets (e.g. degradable sneaker NFTs). However, Stepn had flaws—the game was mostly single player, used complex tokenomics, and was overly financialized. There’s room for new types of real-world games around social habits that combine incentives and verifiable offchain actions.
Onchain AI agent marketplaces
As crypto AI agents become more complex, developers will design agents that perform specific tasks. Rather than building an agent that has to know how to do everything, it will be easier for general agents to buy services from other specific agents. Marketplaces for crypto AI agents will allow people to purchase targeted agent services or trade trained consumer app agents within platforms or games (e.g. Parallel Colony NPCs, ASM brains, Frenrug, etc).
—Mason Nystrom, investment partner
Onchain reputation systems
While blockchains are trustless systems by design, it’s still very difficult to trust the various actors onchain. I see a large opportunity to build a reputation system that leverages onchain data to help us trust the contracts with which we interact and the participants with which we engage. A reputation system not only can easily prevent bad actors such as scammers or airdrop sybil attackers, but can also reward good behavior onchain, which can be leveraged in areas like under-collaterized lending or freelancer markets.
—Jack Gorman, data scientist
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