The metaverse needs to be built by individual creators and not BigTech, according to DNABLOCK, a 3D software platform that lets you create virtual avatars and virtual worlds. The company’s competitive advantage lies in the fact that it lets users create high quality 3D custom avatars that are diverse and inclusive just like the creators of the avatars themselves. CEO Anthony Kelani calls his company “Pixar for the people.”
The competition. There are a lot of avatar companies out there – the big guys include:
- Epic Games’ MetaHuman Creator
Replikant. Cool name for the virtual production software tool – you can upload a selfie and generate a photorealistic, customizable avatar in just 40 seconds.
Philosophy on the creation of the metaverse. CEO Kelani has been working on DNABLOCK since 2017 and gives the nod to Facebook for increasing awareness of the metaverse:
- "You can't have a Facebook or a game studio running the metaverse," he said. "It's not scalable. In order to achieve scale in the metaverse, you've got to have a community of independent creators. The metaverse needs to represent everyone. This needs to represent the world. And with avatars, specifically, you should be able to generate an avatar that looks like you or like someone of color. And what I've found is a lot of the avatar creators today just kind of skimp on that."
NFTs. The company is planning to set up a digital marketplace which will let creators sell their avatars and other digital creations right on the platform, presumably including NFTs. The marketplace will also include 3D props, accessories and motion-capture data from professional dancers and performers, as well as other digital goods. Photorealistic NFT avatars sound like an interesting expansion of the NFT space.
Financing. The company raised $1.2M from SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Spacecadet Ventures, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, and Twitch Co-founder Kevin Lin. Cofounders Anthony Kelani and Luc Schurgers bootstrapped the company since 2017 and want to use the funding to open up the platform to all of the individual creators and companies on the waitlist by later this year.
SoftBank Opportunity Fund managing partner Shu Nyatta wrote in an email:
"With companies like DNABLOCK meeting that demand, anyone, at any skill level, will be able to easily participate in the Metaverse. It has the potential to be as disruptive as the Internet was – but beyond creating new spaces for us to connect with each other, it is also creating new streams of revenue. Already NFTs have taken off in the Metaverse, but we know it's going to get a lot bigger than that."
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