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The news comes just a week after Futureverse announced that it had raised $54 million for its plan to create an open metaverse ecosystem. 10T Holdings led that investment.
This program aims to support early-stage startups that are building on The Root Network, a public decentralized blockchain network optimized for metaverse apps and experiences. The initiative will provide selected teams with a 12-week virtual program filled with mentorship, education, and $100,000 in funding. Applications for the program are now open and will close in early December 2023, with the program scheduled to commence in mid-January 2024.
It also comes after A16z announced that its Speedrun accelerator would take applications for its class of dozens of game startups. But while some of the same startups may apply, the Futureverse Base Camp will invest in metaverse startups, rather than just game companies, said Shara Senderoff, cofounder of Futureverse, in an interview with GamesBeat.
The metaverse isn’t a dirty word
Senderoff and McDonald said they’re not among the group of companies that are running away from the word metaverse because it’s not as popular as it was in its hype stage. While companies like Disney are shutting their metaverse divisions, Futureverse is running in the other direction at the metaverse, Senderoff said.
“We have a huge community across our collections, and there are tons of people that are constantly asking how can they get deeper and collaborate with us, and this is just a much more formal path to be able to do it,” Senderoff said.
It may seem like AI has displaced the metaverse as a hype wave. But McDonald said that AI was always a part of its plan as one of the tools to create the metaverse.
“We’re not running away from the metaverse,” McDonald said.
The reason they want more metaverse companies is that some of those will create import proof of concept ideas that everyone in the metaverse ecosystem will need, Senderoff said.
“We say we’re not building the future,” she said. “We’re saying everyone else is building it with us. And there are a lot of hypotheses we can put into the accelerator and we’ll see who wants to tackle it. It’s a great way to ideate and test things out with minimal risk.”
While they believe games will be part of the internet, the metaverse isn’t going to be restricted to games. And they believe the internet is going to become more and more gamified.
The Base Camp
The Futureverse Base Camp accelerator program is a collaborative effort between Futureverse and Outlier Ventures, with funding provided by Born Ready, a $50 million venture fund announced last week by the cofounders of Futureverse, said Aaron McDonald, cofounder of Futureverse, in an interview with GamesBeat. All told, Futureverse has amassed $104 million in capital to launch its projects.
The program aims to support creators, innovators, and communities that are shaping the future of the open metaverse. By selecting startups building on The Root Network, the program seeks to accelerate the development of scalable and interoperable apps, games, and experiences within the metaverse.
Futureverse offers a suite of proprietary AI content generation tools that enhance various elements of the metaverse, including music, objects, characters, and animations.
The company has also developed The Root Network, a blockchain and suite of protocols designed for building next-generation metaverse applications. The Futureverse Base Camp accelerator program will work closely with a select group of teams focused on expanding the infrastructure for The Root Network and developing applications on top of it.
“Futureverse has created what we believe to be foundational building blocks and brand partnerships for the open metaverse at scale, to drive mass adoption,” said Jamie Burke, CEO of Outlier Ventures, in a statement. “From the early stages of working with them, we have invested in multiple layers of their stack and IP, as they simultaneously partnered with a growing number of portfolio companies coming out of our accelerator, deepening the partnership at each stage. We are now thrilled to run a dedicated accelerator with Futureverse to onboard more founders and creators into their ecosystem.”
The accelerator was a long time in the making.
“Jamie was one of the first people who really saw what we were doing when we started Non-Fungible Labs and Altered State Machine, in terms of bringing something a bit more to the idea of the metaverse,” McDonald said. “There’s more than a trading card game. We were pushing the boundaries of where technology could go and the user experience could go. And so he jumped in, actually, as a community member really early on and started participating in what was going on there.”
They talked more and developed a relationship, starting a couple of years ago. As an idea, the plan to do an accelerator was always there, but Futureverse needed to raise money, Senderoff said.
“As we were thinking about how we wanted to build out the ecosystem around Futureverse, we always knew that we would have a fund that supported developers and creators who wanted to get into building with us,” McDonald said.
How the incubator will work
The qualifications aren’t that stringent, except that the company needs to be in an early stage. The startups don’t have to build applications on The Root Network directly but they do need to incorporate Futureverse platform services or IP that are anchored on The Root Network.
McDonald said, “Part of what we do for developers is help abstract the Web3 parts for them so they and their users don’t need to think about it.” There is no official in-person incubator plan, as the entrepreneurs could be in-person or virtual or a combination.
Last week, the $50 million Born Ready fund was revealed, and one of the programs that will run inside of it is the accelerator, he said. The accelerator will focus on pre-seed and seed investments, where as the fund can address later-stage companies.
The early-stage companies need an incubator because the founders often haven’t built a company before and they need more support. And that support comes from Outlier Ventures, which in addition to being a venture fund has also been one of the most active Web3 startup accelerators in the world.
“We’re leveraging their infrastructure,” McDonald said.
Futureverse brings its own tech and partnerships with content companies in its ecosystem.
Senderoff said there would be six to 10 startups in each accelerator class. The incubator staff will likely be eight to 10 people.
The Futureverse Base Camp accelerator program will provide tailored support to the selected startups, covering various web3 technologies such as protocol infrastructure, consumer-facing games and experiences built using The Root Network, and the tokenization of physical assets to drive XRP liquidity.
Mentors and experts from Outlier Ventures and Futureverse will assist the teams with product roadmap development, community building, entity structuring, strategic partnerships, and more.
Outlier Ventures has a proven track record in accelerating Web3 startups since 2019, with a portfolio of 250 startups from around the world. Notable alumni include Immersve, a company within Futureverse, as well as Auki, Boson Protocol, Fetch.AI, and Ocean Protocol, collectively raising over $350 million in seed capital.
By consolidating 11 metaverse infrastructure and content companies into one ecosystem, Futureverse provides the essential components for constructing metaverse applications while maintaining a significant digital collectible community.
The company has formed strategic partnerships with organizations and innovators such as Wimbledon, FIFA, Authentic Brands Group, Mastercard, Death Row Records, Wētā Workshop, Snoop Dogg, Timbaland, Keanu Reeves, and Alexandra Grant. Additionally, Futureverse announced a partnership with blue-chip NFT collection Cool Cats, integrating the Cool Cats brand with Futureverse’s technology.
Startups interested in participating in the Futureverse Base Camp accelerator program can submit their applications starting today. The 12-week program is set to begin in January 2024 and offers a unique opportunity for early-stage startups to receive support and funding while contributing to the development of the open metaverse.
The ultimate goals
Futureverse believes that the metaverse will need a lot of the same infrastructure it took to build the web. For a while, people had to hire consultants to build custom sites. Now they can build their own, or they can use tools like WordPress to create sites more easily. That kind of tool needs to be built for the metaverse, McDonald said.
The teams will bring in people from their networks as coaches, teachers and mentors for the entrepreneurs. Of course, some of this will be new. As nobody has built the metaverse before. McDonald said that entrepreneurs need something like the accelerator in a tough economy, as it’s not pretty out there right now.
“It won’t be until the metaverse arrives,” McDonald said. “Our thesis is that this will create a multi-trillion-dollar economy. We’ve thought about AI and the metaverse for a few years now. We’re not jumping on the hype. We’re following a thesis that we’ve deeply held for a long time.”
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