Ex-Meta and Viacom officials launch web3 start-up; acquire $8 mn seed funding

Ex-Meta and Viacom officials launch web3 start-up; acquire $8 mn seed funding

Kirthiga Reddy and Saurabh Doshi are co-founders of Virtualness.


Mumbai: Kirthiga Reddy and Saurabh Doshi have co-founded Virtualness, a mobile-first platform designed to help creators and brands navigate the complex world of web3, and have secured over $8 million in seed funding.

Facebook India & South Asia employee #1 and former managing director, Softbank Investment Advisors' former investment partner Reddy, Meta Asia-Pacific's former head for entertainment, emerging markets, & greater China region for creators, Viacom Group's former vice president, and Star India's Doshi, will leverage their decades of global entrepreneurial experience partnering with creators, media, brands, and tech platforms.

The fundraise was led by Blockchange Ventures and joined by Polygon Ventures, Micron Ventures, Better Ventures, FalconX, Neythri Futures Fund, Carolyn Everson, Randi Zuckerberg, Nusier Yassin (Nas Daily), Anjali Bansal, Ashwini Asokan, Harsh Jain, Sandeep Singhal, Stacy Brown-Philpot, Vani Kola, and other thought leaders.

Zuckerberg and Yassin serve as advisors for the company, along with Curious Addys chief technology officer (CTO) Ben Yu; VidCon former general manager Jim Louderback; Curious Addys CEO Mai Akiyoshi; and OpenSea vice president of products Shiva Rajaraman. They have been at the forefront of creator economy trends and bring extensive expertise across diverse fields, including media, art, entertainment, blockchain, and web3. Their guidance has been instrumental in taking Virtualness from concept to reality and will continue to help shape the global vision.

Virtualness will roll out core capabilities for creators and brands when the platform launches in 2023.

There are more than 300 million creators worldwide, with half of them joining the creator economy in the last two years. Despite this extraordinary migration, these creators lack even the most basic tools to scale their businesses and easily capture the value-creation opportunities that blockchain and web3 represent. Centred on the ethos of "empathy at the core," Virtualness puts creators first and is building the playbook for easy design, efficient sharing, and seamless digital commerce.

Upon launch in early 2023, authenticated creators and brands will use the platform to design, mint, and showcase branded digital collectibles; easily share across their social media channels; directly interact with their fans and community; enable unique experiences; and unlock new channels for monetisation. Education, personalisation, discovery, integration with web2 and web3 platforms, and a mobile-first experience are core to the platform.

"Creators are the ultimate entrepreneurs. We've been at the heart of the web2 ecosystem building and onboarding creators and brands, and we're on our journey to do it again for web3. People are spending more and more time in various digital worlds and have the desire for customised experiences, individual identities, expressions and personalised commerce," said Reddy and Doshi, in media reports.

They added, "We're excited to see how creators and brands mimic various physical experiences in digital forms and in newer ways. This is about building a new economy, unlocked by branded digital collectibles that deliver unique experiences, capabilities, and value. Our belief is that everything that can move from a physical form to digital will move."

Reddy and Doshi are working closely with creators to inform how they build their products. Nusier Yassin (Nas Daily), a famed creator with more than 50 million followers across social media platforms and an investor in Virtualness, is one of the tech-forward creators helping shape the product from the concept stage.

"Reddy and Doshi lead with hustle, heart, and vision. I have had a ringside view of how they shepherded the transition to a digital and mobile world and onboarded a range of global creators and brands to web2. The depth of their relationships with creators, brands, and the entire ecosystem is unparalleled. Their shared experiences and impact over the last decade give me absolute conviction that they will do the same as they unlock the power of web3 for creators and brands," said Yassin in the media report.

"Typically, countries outside of the US and Europe get access to features much later. I am confident that this team will unlock opportunities for creators and their fans, no matter where they live. Reddy and Doshi have the rare experience of scaling innovative, user-friendly technology globally with a focus on creator monetization," added Yassin.

With a core engineering team with a successful track record of collaboration on prior start-ups, Virtualness has bootstrapped a proof of concept on the Polygon chain. The company will use this first round of funding to support a number of key areas, including new hires in engineering, product, and design in the United States, India, Singapore, Dubai, and other parts of the world, helping the company to innovate, expand platform support to additional blockchains, integrate with offline and online experiences — including metaverse platforms — and launch its offerings.

"This is a time of great transformation in the future of work, economic opportunity, and drivers of social change," said Blockchange Ventures GP Cailleach De Weingart-Ryan.

"Blockchain will have a tremendous impact on businesses and society and we believe Virtualness will be a leader in the next chapter of the generational technology shift the blockchain represents. Reddy and Doshi's experiences are custom-built to help those who want to tap into web3 but don't know how. Their ability to navigate cross-cultural differences, expertise on the utility of the blockchain and creator-obsessed approach to building products, is the triple-threat needed to accelerate adoption in web3 at a global scale. As early investors in all aspects of the blockchain revolution, we look forward to partnering with Reddy and Doshi and amplifying their efforts to democratise and unlock value-creation for creators and brands of any size and stage."