October 6, 2022

NEAR Funding Updates: Funding Beyond Grants

Welcome to the Funding Team Series that highlights important updates about NEAR Foundation’s Grants program, ecosystem and funding strategy. 

Part 1 will cover funding beyond Grants, Part 2 will reintroduce NEAR Foundation’s Grant Program, and Part 3 will introduce the Grant Team Handbook, to be published in the coming weeks. 

The NEAR Funding team is composed of two sub-teams: the Grants team that manages the Grants program and the Strategic Funding team which focuses on equity investments and the external VC network.

Part 1 / Funding Beyond Grants

1.  NEAR ecosystem funding programs

2. Success stories in the NEAR ecosystem

3. Projects that have raised capital

NEAR Foundation has been deeply focused on developing other funding programs within the ecosystem since the start of 2022.  Since the creation of Proximity Labs and Aurora and the launch of their own grants program, NEAR Foundation has been redirecting DeFi projects to Proximity and EVM based projects to Aurora. 

Please note that Proximity’s, Aurora’s, and all other separate grant programs’ decisions are made independent of NEAR Foundation. 

1.  Ecosystem funding programs 

A number of grant programs have launched and are ongoing  in the NEAR ecosystem including: Human Guild for Gaming projects, CypherPunk Guild for privacy projects, and Mintbase for NFT projects. These grant channels are to be used to expand and decentralize our ecosystem in a more efficient manner.  

Additionally, to amplify NEAR’s growth, the NEAR Funding team is working with launchpads, accelerators, ecosystem funds, and a VC Network that are all deeply rooted in the NEAR ecosystem.

Launchpads are blockchain-based platforms that help startups and crypto-related projects launch on-chain.

For further information about launchpads on NEAR, please visit this guide
Accelerators help founders validate, build, and de-risk by defining and growing KPIs, developing product-market fit, and fundraising.

Ecosystem Funds are deeply rooted in the NEAR Ecosystem with global or vertical focuses, primarily investing and deploying capital to projects in the NEAR ecosystem.

Regional Hubs, as part of our path toward decentralization, the NEAR Foundation will be redirecting projects related to specific regions. The  NEAR Foundation is currently supporting 6 regional hubs in strategic locations (Ukraine, Kenya, Balkans, Vietnam, India and Korea) with others to come. Local experts are able to tailor NEAR initiatives to support local communities and regional ecosystem building. 

A summary of different funding programs can be found here.

VC Network 

NEAR Foundation’s VC Network includes 300+ VCs  representing 30Bn+ in capital that are actively engaged and supporting the growth of projects within NEAR. They have already deployed $300 million to 60 projects thus far.

2. Success stories in the NEAR ecosystem

NearNauts – NFT

The NearNauts team came to NEAR with a vision, received funding from the NEAR Foundation Grants team, and have since launched what is now the top NFT project on NEAR. They started off as a PFP NFT project, utilizing grant funds to develop their website, smart contract, and marketing. Then, they expanded to build out a no-code NFT launchpad and a KYC platform. Their marketplace is on the way featuring a revenue sharing model for holders.

Apollo42 – NFT 

The Apollo42 team is a great example of a NEAR Foundation grant recipient that came to NEAR with a vision, and by receiving funding from NF was able to realize that vision. Apollo 42 is an ecosystem of NFT services that started out by building and integrating NFT ranking tools. From there, they went on to develop their own NFT Marketplace with elements of AR built into it. Apollo42 has made some amazing developments along the way, and continues to build out and update their platform.

Blogchain – Social Impact

Capsule Social is another great example of a team that received funding from the NEAR Foundation Grants team and went on to build an amazing platform. With the funding received from NF, the Capsule Social team developed Blogchain, a creative writing platform that empowers writers to publish content and get paid on Web3.

NearBlocks – Tools/Infrastructure

The team behind NearBlocks initially came into the NEAR ecosystem curious about the blockchain and underlying tech. They received a grant from NF and built NearBlocks, a blockchain explorer, search, API and analytics platform with the goal of providing equitable access to blockchain data. Once they launched NearBlocks and saw how successful it was, they went on to build and launch https://nearsend.io/, a tool for bulk transacting. The team also has another exciting project in the works. Located in Indonesia, the team has gone from 3 to 11 full time Rust developers, with the goal of increasing to 50 in the next year.

Sender – Wallet

Sender Wallet is a great case study of a project that came into the NEAR ecosystem with a plan. The team received funding from the NEAR Foundation Grants team to build out and launch a non-custodial browser extension wallet for NEAR users. Sender Wallet has gone on to be one of the most popular wallets in the ecosystem.

3. Projects that have raised capital  

Niche – Social Networking app on NEAR – Twitter

Niche is a decentralized social networking app, built to help people discover and grow communities. The mission of Niche is to return agency to individuals and enable them to benefit from their content, not big corporations. 

  • External Raised capital:  $1.8M –  Announcement
  • Latest update:  Launched beta in August, read about their NEAR launch here.

Tonic – Orderbook DEX on NEAR  – Twitter

Tonic is a high-performance trading platform that brings the speed and convenience of centralized exchanges to NEAR while being fully decentralized.

  • External Raised capital: $5MAnnouncement
  • Latest update:  Launched mainnet in May 2022, launched Tonic Swap in July

Capsule SocialDecentralized social discourse on NEAR – Twitter

Capsule Social launched Blogchain, a Web3 publishing platform with unrivaled protections for free speech, where content is protected by a censorship-resistant architecture. 

  • External Capital Raised: $2.5M –  Announcement
  • Latest update:  Launched Blogchain, a decentralized Substack competitor in June.  You can check out the content on Blogchain or participate in writing here.

Sender Wallet – Browser extension wallet built on NEAR – Twitter

Sender is a browser extension wallet built on NEAR. Its goal is to build a secure and smooth wallet for decentralized digital assets like crypto and NFTs.

Interested in getting funded?

If you are interested in funding for your project, check out the following resources: 

⌛️ In the next blog post, the NEAR Funding team will reintroduce the NEAR Foundation’s Grant Program, providing grant data and including key updates. 

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