Tensor, which brands itself as “the Blur of Solana,” raised $3 million in a seed funding round.
Placeholder VC led the round, with Solana Ventures, Alliance DAO, Big Brain Holdings, Solana co-founders Anatoly Yakovenko and Raj Gokal, and others participating, Tensor said Tuesday.
Tensor was founded last year and started raising for the seed round in November when FTX collapsed and crypto prices plunged. “Needless to say, our initial investor calls were tough, to say the least,” Tensor co-founder Ilja Moisejevs told The Block. But the startup closed the round within a few months, which is an equity-plus-token-warrants round, according to Moisejevs. He declined to comment on the valuation.
By calling itself “the Blur of Solana,” Tensor references its NFT marketplace for pro traders on Solana — like how Blur is on Ethereum. Blur launched six months ago and has had a total trading volume of over $2 billion to date, according to The Block’s Data Dashboard.
As for Tensor, it has had a total trading volume of $7 million since its launch late last year. Moisejevs and his other co-founder, Richard Wu, see NFTs as an “extremely high potential” market. “Everything that’s digital and unique will be an NFT,” according to Moisejevs.
Wu said today’s marketplaces for NFTs are slow and that “the pros aren’t going to wait 30 seconds for a transaction to confirm and pay $1000s in fees eroding their trading profits — they want it Ferrari-fast and dirt-cheap, and Solana’s 400ms consensus is the only way to deliver it.”
While Solana may be faster and cheaper than Ethereum, the trading volume of Solana-based NFTs is much lower than that of Ethereum-based NFTs, according to The Block’s Data Dashboard. Solana has also suffered multiple network outages since its launch in 2020.
But Tensor plans to follow a similarly aggressive user acquisition on Solana as Blur did on Ethereum. It recently launched a new incentives program that will reward any Solana-based NFT traders. It is also planning a second program to reward only those who traded on TensorSwap.
Tensor was bootstrapped entirely off prize money from winning two Solana hackathons. Its team is lean, with the two co-founders and its recently made first hire — KRTrades_ or “Stringray” — a pseudonymous crypto trader. Stringray will help Tensor bring new liquidity to NFTs and Solana in particular, Tensor said. The startup plans to stay lean in the near future and is currently looking to add two founding engineers, said Moisejevs.
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