We are thrilled to announce our seed funding round of $4.5M, led by Wing Venture Capital and Patron. Our mission is to enable people and dApps to engage with trust in a decentralized world. To kickstart our journey, we have developed a web3 marketing platform in collaboration with Polygon and leading web3 gaming partners such as Decentral Games, Ethermon, League of Kingdoms, and others. So far, Sesame's platform has driven impressive NFT sales, significantly reduced spammy users claiming giveaways, and created partnership opportunities between projects.
In 2018, Aman and I joined the WhatsApp Monetization team as the initial members. We had to figure out a novel way to connect enterprise businesses and people on WhatsApp while kickstarting the monetization flywheel. There was a clear billion-dollar opportunity to serve Ads, but that posed a material risk of people losing trust in the brand and leaving the network. "WhatsApp doesn't sell Ads" was a promise made by the founders in the early days. Instead, we took the non-obvious route to monetize the WhatsApp Business API and go after the SMS industry. We launched the product in six months, which delivered a unique engagement behavior between people and businesses on WhatsApp. People could opt-in to communicating with companies in a structured manner. Businesses only paid for messages that delivered the right outcome. The product followed WhatsApp's philosophy and was architected as an end-to-end encrypted communication platform with built-in spam controls. Overall, this bet had its skeptics, such as Techcrunch. Still, it became a $1B+ ARR business, and business messaging has become a core focus area for Meta.
Aman and I took this experience as a validation of our working relationship and passion for solving complex monetization product challenges. We were keen to build a startup with these skills but were waiting for the right problem area and market before jumping in. In March 2022, Web3 growth became top of mind for us, and we left Meta to join the South Park Commons' web3 fellowship to start Sesame Labs.
Identifying the problem
To understand the problem we are solving at Sesame Labs, let us roll back to my crypto journey starting in 2013. As a degen and soccer fan, I would visit shell crypto betting websites every weekend, such as cloudbet.com or btcbetting.com, which would custody my bitcoins and most likely shut down a few days later. Finding a legit portal that I could trust with my money was a pain. I developed an intuitive muscle for quickly identifying shady websites and moving money in and out.
In 2020, during the NFT and DeFi boom, I discovered projects like Loot and Olympus DAO via Twitter shills or reversed engineering pools in Uniswap. Inevitably, most of them were pump-and-dump schemes, which meant I would certainly lose my investment if I missed looking at the prices over a weekend. I got better at catching price changes in a short time interval to predict a dump.
Fast forward to January 2021, Twitter notifications suddenly buzzed with random people tagging me on web3 projects. These notifications were annoying for the user. Aman and I started going deep into this trend. We ended up talking to 50-odd project owners and marketers, which led to a few fundamental discoveries:
- Twitter and Facebook don't allow Crypto Ads, and hence asking people to tag their friends was a hack for getting organic distribution.
- Most of the campaigns had no layer of targeting built in.
- None of these campaigns were driving tangible downstream outcomes and causing notification spam for users.
- Marketers couldn't measure the performance of these campaigns since the traditional web2 tools don't work out of the box.
To indicate the severity of the broader problem of marketing, look at the following statistics:
- Uniswap spent ~$351M on an Airdrop campaign, leading to only 1% of recipients increasing their $UNI position. At the same time, the majority just pumped the money.
- Up to 40% of ERC721 NFTs created on ETH L1 were mass airdrops of spammy NFTs.
After this decade-long experience with crypto, it became clear that people needed a trusted way to discover, engage, and transact with dApps. On the dApp side, they needed a way to understand, acquire, and retain their consumers. We were fascinated by this problem and the potential impact solving this would have on web3 ecosystem growth. After sharing a few proofs-of-concept with likely web3 marketers, we validated the severity and urgency of the problem. This clear feedback led to the inception of Sesame Labs.
We have set out to enable people and dApps to engage with trust in a decentralized world. To realize this mission, we need to solve the following problems:
- On-chain identity and reputation of dApps
- Dis-intermediated reward disbursement
- Spam & fraud protection for dApps and people
- Decentralized communication and incentive program protocol
- A platform for developers to extend the protocol or build clients without compromising user data or security
- Insights for dApps to understand their users better across on-chain and off-chain worlds
These are complex engineering & product challenges and will require approaching them with a unique web3 builder's mindset (read more about it here).
Our core belief is that the current web3 marketing tactics don't work. A new playbook will be required to fix the problem, potentially leveraging a native marketing stack.
As a starting point, we want to empower dApp developers with the best web3 marketing stack. Our platform will help developers understand their users across on-chain and off-chain. Using these insights, we will allow them to acquire similar new users and drive downstream business impact via our incentive programs.
Where are we?
Partners in our closed alpha launch have seen much success so far. We are collaborating with Polygon and top web3 games like Decentral Games, League of Kingdoms, and Ethermon. Partners are seeing an increase in NFT sales, a significant reduction in spammy users claiming giveaways, and fostering partnerships between projects.
To accelerate our progress, we have closed a seed round of $4.5M led by Wing Venture Capital and Patron, with participation from South Park Commons, Script Capital, DoubleJump, Forte, MoonFire, Samsung, Twin Ventures, and angels including Balaji Srinivasan, ex-Chief Technology Officer at Coinbase and Founder of Earn; Robin Chan, Co-Founder of Fractal; Ryan Spoon, ex-Chief Operation Officer at Sorare; and others. Investors have played a massive role in shaping our journey, and we are excited for continued partnership with them.
Does this problem space sound exciting to you? Reach out to us since we are actively hiring rockstar engineers and biz dev to build our founding team.