Backed by the likes of Sequoia Capital India and execs from Coinbase, CoinMarketCap and more, Ethlas is the first investor-backed GameFi startup from Singapore and will mint its genesis NFT series in the coming weeks.

Singapore, February 15, 2022 – Singapore-based game finance (GameFii) blockchain startup, Ethlas, announced on Feb. 15 that it has secured $2.7 million in seed funding from investors such as Sequoia Capital India, Yield Guild Games Southeast Asia, Global Blockchain Innovative Capital, Venturra Capital, Play It Forward DAO, Blockchain Space, Genesis Fund, Deus Ex DAO, Hustle Fund and executives from Grab, Coinbase and CoinMarketCap. The hitherto stealth start-up has also unveiled the identities of two of its four founders: American Gennady ‘Ari’ Medvinsky and Singaporean Elston Sam, both of whom have worked in top tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Grab and Airbnb. The identities of the other two founders — one of whom is a very senior executive with a big tech firm — will be disclosed in due course.

The three-month-old Ethlas is the first GameFi startup founded in Singapore to have secured serious investor money, underlining the confidence that VCs have in this fledgling tech startup that first launched quietly in November 2021. Built on the Polygon blockchain, Ethlas has chalked up over 100,000 crypto-wallet users globally and scored some 3 million gameplays on its platform as of end-January 2022. The rapid scale that Ethlas used to achieve product-market fit has been one of the key reasons for its seed fundraising success.

According to a Bloomberg report in January 2022, the number of blockchain games grew nearly threefold, from about 200 in 2020 to more than 544 in 2021. Most GameFi platforms have a high barrier of entry, requiring gamers to pay subscription fees or have upfront capital. In contrast, Ethlas – a portmanteau of “Ethereum” and “Atlas” – is a free-to-play, play-to-earn platform that helps the layperson win and encash cryptocurrency by participating in simple, easily-understood casual games with which everyone is familiar. Think Tetris, Candy Crush and Bubble Popper but way cooler. To start playing, gamers just need to install MetaMask, a software crypto wallet or link their wallets, and they can start playing in the Ethlas metaverse on a PC or a mobile phone’s browser. There are no complicated onboarding rules or hefty subscription fees required to sign up.

“Komo” NFT minted

As part of its product roadmap, Ethlas will mint its first series of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) called Komos. Modeled after the Komodo Dragons of Indonesia, the Komo NFTs will benefit both free-to-play gamers and crypto natives. Free-to-play gamers can use the five tiers of the Komo NFT to boost their gameplay and secure more Exchange Genesis Ethlas Medium (XGEM), the in-game cryptocurrency in the Ethlas metaverse. Crypto natives can benefit from the intrinsic value of a well-designed NFT that has in-game utility and facilitates scholarships (NFT rental). The Komo NFT series will be available before end-February 2022. Ethlas is also working with game studios to launch their games on their platform through a revenue-sharing model.

“The unique value proposition of Komo NFTs is that they do not only function as game passes on Ethlas granting players special access to games and features, they are also asset-backed NFTs, which consist of staked tokens wrapped as ERC-721 tokens that have recently started gaining popularity. Ethlas’ Komo NFTs possess both intrinsic artistic as well as monetary value, thereby driving up their desirability as a piece of tradeable art. Most game NFTs do not provide such value as Komo,” said Ethlas co-founder Elston Sam.

Moonshot vision of one billion users

The founders of Ethlas were intrigued by the potential of GameFi when they read of Filipinos earning more money from playing games on GameFi platforms than from their day jobs. With their convictions that Web3 will be powered by cryptocurrency and its social impact, the four founders decided to take the plunge and leave their well-paying jobs to build Ethlas. Their moonshot vision was to make crypto inclusive and accessible by onboarding the next billion non-crypto users onto the Ethlas metaverse. Ethlas has plans to work with regulators to develop a framework for GameFi as it believes regulations and consumer education are key to facilitating the growth of this currently nascent but immense GameFi ecosystem in a safe and controlled manner.

Ethlas has built up a team of more than 20 blockchain engineers, game developers, data scientists, cybersecurity experts and designers based out of Singapore, the Philippines and the United States. The startup was founded in Singapore as the country has a good tech ecosystem that fosters and enables innovation, especially in crypto, and has good access to venture capital. It will leverage its seed funding to aggressively hire tech talent in the Web3 space.