EchoVC launches $8 million fund for blockchain-powered startups

EchoVC launches $8 million fund for blockchain-powered startups

EchoVC, a pan-African VC agency with a worldwide presence, has introduced a recent $8 million fund devoted to blockchain startups in Africa. Dubbed the EchoVC Chain Blockchain Fund, the recent capital might be deployed to blockchain startups which are substantiating the utility of blockchain merchandise and fixing a few of Africa’s urgent challenges.

EchoVC is notably elevating this capital at a time when general buyer and investor belief in crypto and blockchain startups appears to be hanging by a thread. The previous yr has not been rosy for blockchain gamers in African tech. First, the worldwide funding downturn struck the crypto area and precipitated a 75% Q4 decline in crypto investments globally; and following that was the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s blockchain empire, FTX. The corporate, with its intensive roots and investments in Africa, filed for chapter, and sucked away vital runway funds from African blockchain-powered startups, together with Nestcoin and Chipper Money. 

Within the first quarter of 2023, promising blockchain startup, Fluidcoins was desperately sold off after its founder, Lanre Adenowo, couldn’t safe funds past an preliminary $150,000 from nearly two years prior. It was the primary time a crypto startup was being bought in Nigeria, however the battle behind the sale raised arguments for a struggling blockchain ecosystem, slightly than an increasing one. 

EchoVC’s founder and common managing associate, Eghosa Omoigui, acknowledge these struggles, but, he’s satisfied that there is no such thing as a higher time than now to launch the blockchain-focused fund for African startups.

“The worldwide funding crunch is impacting all tech sectors, not simply crypto, and has precipitated a lower in valuations of startups throughout all tech sectors. Nonetheless this permits us to speculate at decrease entry valuations on common than in prior years,” Omoigui mentioned in a chat with TechCabal.

“Whereas this has considerably decreased VC urge for food for crypto investing, we proceed to stay excited in regards to the helpful functions of crypto and blockchain in Africa, and consider that crypto founders in Africa will proceed to construct for performance to unravel issues in Africa,” he added.

EchoVC, a sector-agnostic enterprise capital agency, made its foray into blockchain investing in 2021 by collaborating in Fonbnk’s $3.5 million seed round.  Since then, the VC has invested in seven blockchain-powered startups throughout three sub-sectors: B2B infrastructure, B2C DeFi, and market making. For the pan-African VC agency,  blockchain’s skill to tokenise and scale autonomously is thrilling and, clearly, compelling sufficient to create a particular fund for, particularly in a market that’s underserved.

Underrepresented founders and underserved markets 

Branded because the Sequoia Capital for underrepresented founders and underserved markets, EchoVC has deployed over $41 million into about 36 completely different startups globally. Its footprints in Africa—a sometimes underserved market—span Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda. 

Seen by the lens of blockchain investing, Africa’s place as an underserved market brings to fore the argument of whether or not the continent is able to undertake blockchain expertise options at scale. Granted, Africa’s obtained a wild thirst for crypto. International locations reminiscent of Nigeria have topped lists of worldwide crypto adoption and utilization, falling behind solely the US and Russia in traded crypto volumes in 2020. Nonetheless, this spectacular feat turns into questionable when one considers the utility of crypto in Nigeria; it hardly goes past P2P transactions and, to a smaller diploma, remittances. 

Options like Fluidcoins, which launched crypto-powered wallets, financial savings, and marketplaces, struggled to get off the bottom in Nigeria, a rustic globally recognised to have the highest users of cryptocurrency. Equally, Lazerpay, a blockchain answer that permits companies to obtain crypto funds, goes by its darkish valley. Final yr, its supposed lead investor pulled out from the corporate’s seed increase, inflicting the agency to put off employees with a view to prolong runway. 

Query: Is Africa actually underserved, or are Africans averse to crypto adoption past conventional fee alternate options? EchoVC believes the previous, because it strives to fund the continent right into a hub that embraces blockchain options with actual utility. 

“The blockchain ecosystem remains to be nascent in Africa. At EchoVC, we purpose to put money into and assist construct startups that grow to be the long run African success tales. We’re utterly targeted on founders constructing extremely practical and resilient merchandise that create restricted to zero cognitive masses,” Omoigui mentioned.

“The businesses we again are taking part in throughout the time and utility spectrum: trying new improvements that assist refactor, increase, and enhance conventional options (slightly than disrupting them outright), but in addition have paths to long-term alternatives with future improvements which are in keeping with the respective founder’s visions,” he added.

EchoVC’s funding technique

EchoVC plans to deploy the $8 million by three focus areas. First, the VC agency might be looking for startups which are leveraging blockchain to energy foundational fintech infrastructure. This can embrace infrastructure that leverages stablecoins to optimise funds, liquidity, and treasury.

Blockchain performance is EchoVC’s second space of focus. The corporate believes DeFi could be explored to construct options that energy entry to credit score and financial savings, whereas NFTs can bolster the gaming and creator financial system.

EchoVC’s ultimate funding focus is startups that leverage decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) to scale, organise human networks, and unlock labour liquidities in methods that may foster prosperity for Africans.

“Wanting past these, we proceed to discover different rising blockchain elements, starting from digital identification, privateness, decentralised infrastructure edge nodes, and agile provide chains to a attainable future intersection between AI/ML and DAOs,” an EchoVC post reads.

Omoigui anticipates that on the finish of the fund deployment, which may have cheque sizes starting from $250,000 to $500,000, EchoVC’s portfolio may have elevated to between 12 and 20 firms. 

“VC is a protracted sport, and so, outlook smart, within the subsequent few years, we would like to have the ability to have our portcos resonate with their customers and assist gas main and parallel economies which are accessible to, and financeable by, all,” Omoigui maintained. 

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