Javaugn Lawrence wandered the Eniac Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence program in 2020 looking for a product and found inspiration from some Pokémon cards.
He joined a Facebook group for Pokémon collectors and started watching people host what he called “ripping and sending,” where they ripped open packs of Pokémon cards and sold them.
“It was interesting, but the actual experience was very bad,” Lawrence recalls. “The video was slow, the chat was laggy and you also had to pay with five different payment methods. However, people were still coming over to buy, and they were super engaged, super nice and super engaged.”
Lawrence got away with a deck of cards for himself, but also with the idea of building something better. He and Sameep Sheth started hacking together what would become drip in January 2021.
Lawrence considers Drip to be “the Shopify for livestream commerce”, which provides tooling so that users can run, drop, or buy livestream auctions through Drip’s existing marketplace.
Live commerce is most popular in China, where: revenue is expected to reach $423 billion by 2022† That compares to the US live commerce market, which is poised to reach $35 billion in revenue by 2024†
Drip also competes in an increasingly crowded landscape dominated by Whatnot and Popshop. To capitalize on that future demand, the company is also developing some unique features that will allow users to embed the live stream into their web properties, allowing them to simultaneously reach most of their audience, and for third-party developers to build experiences on top of our ecosystem.
In addition, merchants can collect cash or cryptocurrency for their physical products and soon Ethereum-based NFTs. Drip is taking a 6% cut in transactions for now, with Lawrence saying they can make a subscription product over time.
The company initially brought in several hundred thousand dollars in seed capital, but began to grow more than 20-fold in monthly volume and grew to a team of 19. That’s when Lawrence and Sheth decided to look for additional financing. They raised an additional $28.5 million in a combined seed and Series A round, including $23 million in Series A dollars with a valuation of over $100 million.
The rounds were led by Base10, Kindred, Eniac Ventures and Harlem Capital with the participation of a group of angel investors including Axie Infinity founder Jeff Zirlin; Nick Tomaino, a general partner at 1confirmation and Coinbase early rental; Brian Long and Andrew Jones at Considerate; Ramnik Arora, lead product at FTX through his Toy Ventures fund; and Chris Bennett, CEO of WonderSchool.
With this new funding round, Drip will scale its NFT selling efforts, including on-chain transactions on Ethereum and seller acquisitions, as well as decentralizing access to its live selling capabilities and expanding the team, especially in engineering, product, partnerships and operations. .
One of the emerging behaviors that the co-founders of Drip have seen is that some users actually take screenshots of the NFT reveal or have a friend in a video chat with them. That’s what the company wants to change.
“The NFT buying experience is generally a very social one,” Lawrence added. “At the moment people are kind of hacking that together. Being part of a community is the core interaction and video will solve that and then help get the community involved.”