Binance-backed Web3 gaming startup Unagi gets funding to expand virtual sports platform • TechCrunch

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Web3 gaming company Unagi today announced a €4.7 million ($5 million) seed round of funding, as the French startup prepares to expand its NFT virtual sports platform beyond football (“soccer”) into the realm of basketball.

Unagi, which does not yet have its own website, is an independent game studio founded by Charlie Guillemot from Paris, son of Ubisoft co-founder Yves Guillemot and former studio manager of Orient, acquired by Ubisoft in 2011. ; and Remy Pellerin, also formerly of Orient.

Both Guillemot and Pellerin left Owlient in 2021 to launch Unagi, serving as co-CEOs, and launched their first game last April.

The so-called opening title Last Champions allows players to create and manage their own football team using players from multiple clubs across the continent. To date, Unagi has signed deals with 45 clubs in Europe, including current English Premier League champions Arsenal, and games in Ultimate Champions are synchronized with real matches, allowing players to earn rewards based on selected real-world performances.

Branding itself as a Web 3 company, these rewards include an in-game currency called Champ Tokens that can be bought, earned and spent in-game, as well as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) in the form of digital playing cards. Collecting and selling. Unagi takes a 5% commission on all financial transactions on the platform.

The ultimate champion of digital cards Image credits: Unagi

Sports opportunity

Unagi stated that its user base has now flown past the 220,000 mark, the crypto giant Binance invested $4 million in the startup back in November in its VC and accelerated off-shooting Binance Labs, although this constitutes a private token sale. Instead of a balanced investment – Binance bought 4 million dollars in Champ Tokens. At the same time, Binance confirmed plans to deploy Ultimate Champions on the Binance-led BNB Chain, which Unagi confirmed today happened quietly at the end of January.

On the back of this traction, Unagi has entered into a partnership with the European basketball competition EuroLeague and plans to introduce a basketball version of Ultimate Champions next month.

The latest €4.7 million funding round is fully equity-based and led by Finnish early-stage VC firm Sisu Game Ventures, along with Sfermion, UOB Ventures, Signum Capital, 2B Ventures and Machame.

Unagi has previously raised a €1.5 million pre-seed round of equity funding from several VCs and angels, including German international soccer player Mario Götze last April. And in the year By the end of 2021, Unagi has completed a $1.7 million private token sale from crypto-focused investors like Polygon and GSR.

So this effectively means that Unagi has raised a total of €6.1 million ($6.5 million) in equity financing and $5.7 million in token sales.

Of its 220,000 users, Pellery says about 70,000 are actively playing each month – most of them playing for free, rather than paying for in-game assets. But he stressed that it is still very early days, and with the new cash injection the company plans to grow its international team from 25 to 40 people and develop partnerships with many sports clubs and leagues.

Moreover, there is scope for expansion beyond sports into the wider gaming sphere in the future. It’s unclear what form it will eventually take, whether it’s a role-playing game, a first-person shooter, or something completely different.

“The best thing about web3 is that it’s still very early, the industry hasn’t found a compelling business model yet, there’s a lot of trial and error, a lot of experimentation,” Pellery told TechCrunch. It’s in-game assets, and that’s what we’re looking at.”

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