Space Runners announced a $10 million funding round on Monday as part of its quest to offer open-source fashion items as non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) in collaboration with artists and brands, and to create a larger platform for fashion in the metaverse. “Our goal is to build the first end-to-end fashion ecosystem on the blockchain,” Won Soh, who co-founded Space Runners alongside Deniz Özgür, said in a statement regarding the round, which was led by Pantera. Capital. and Polychain Capital, with participation from Jump Crypto, Accel, Animoca Brands President Yat Siu, and Twitch Co-Founder Justin Kan.
Founded in March 2021 with the aim of helping famous brands and personalities design NFTs that can be used in various virtual environments – from metaverse platforms and video games to social media, Space Runners launched its first collection with the stars of National Basketball Association Kyle Kumza and Nick Young, selling 10,000 NBA Champions Sneaker Collection NFTs in the space of nine minutes in December 2021 – and generating $8 million in revenue in the process.
In addition to doubling down on its initial NFT success in hopes of becoming “the largest supplier of interoperable fashion items for different metaverses and games,” Space Runners says it will use the new money – bringing its total funding to $30 million so far – to build SPACEverse, “a metaverse of fashion, incorporating a wear2earn economy”. On the SPACEverse platform, users will be able to “present trendy NFTs, participate in events, interact and play games with other users” in what the company calls “the first fashion metaverse that brings together community, brands and celebrities”.
At the same time, the company seeks to boost its collaborations with fashion, music, sport, art and web3 players, while “enriching the Space Runner community”.
Speaking about Accel’s involvement in the round, Principal Pratik Agarwal said the company is bullish on the metaverse and virtual fashion as consumers “spend more time online as the digital world continues to grow.” envelop more of our daily life” and that “status symbols [have] also began to appear in the digital world. Reflecting on Space Runners, in particular, Agarwal said the company “owns the means of online fashion production, which allows them to help partners create fashion collections with lightning-fast turnaround time. “, and “pushing the boundaries of immersive experiences”. including through their “unique AR filter”, which allows users to “enhance their experience by virtually trying on their shoes and making a deeper connection with their digital fashion items”.
Meanwhile, Pantera Capital partner Paul Veradittakit echoed that sentiment, saying “fashion will be just as, if not more, important in the metaverse as it is in the real world.”
THE BIG PICTURE: The round comes as companies pump money into the Metaverse and other Web3 ventures, with more money that should be spent building what many apparently see as the future of the web. Among the “core categories” expected to drive Metaverse-related funding in 2022 and beyond include according to CrunchBase, are “hardware, networking, computing power, payments, content and assets, and virtual platforms”. While the bulk of funding in this area to date has gone to crypto and blockchain technology companies, virtual platforms and product efforts are expected to continue to attract attention and investment.
Not the only rising player in the virtual fashion and NFT space, Space Runners’ rise stems from the success of fellow native digital entity RTFKT, which raised $8 million in May 2021 after completing 3, $1 million in sales in minutes for the 621 pairs of virtual sneakers he created alongside artist Fewocious, and has since been acquired by Nike in December.