Gateway, a web3 credential protocol, raised $4.2 million in a seed funding round.
Crypto-focused venture capital firm Reciprocal Ventures led the round, with 6th Man Ventures, Spartan Group, Figment and others participating. Angel investors, including Polygon's Sandeep Nailwal and Messari's Ryan Selkis, also backed the round.
Gateway began raising for the round early last year and closed it by the second quarter, but chose to announce it now due to the crypto collapses of the previous year, Gateway co-founder Ayyan Rahman told The Block. Rahman added that the funding was realized via an equity plus token warrant arrangement, declining to comment on when the token will launch.
Gateway was founded in 2021 by Rahman, Sanket Jain, Harisson Santos and Nuno Carvalho, aiming to decentralize credentials issuance and maintenance. Credentials are verifications that prove a person has a specific attribute or qualification. In a traditional world, credentials are often issued physically and maintained by centralized organizations — such as certificates from governments and universities. In a web3 world, credentials are stored on the blockchain and often issued as tokens, such as NFTs.
Gateway says it has issued over 500,000 credentials since inception, with the majority, over 300,000, being minted as NFTs.
"Credential minting as an NFT is in the user's control to help ensure sovereignty and data privacy," said Rahman. "The user, after earning a credential, can choose to mint it as an NFT, which we call a verifiable presentation. This is simply a token for greater social consumption and interoperability with applications."
Gateway stores its credentials on the blockchain-based data storage protocol Arweave. It currently supports credentials on the Ethereum blockchain with plans to integrate Solana in the near future.
Gateway offers a credential decentralized application. The dapp provides web3 organizations with a "no-code" platform to create and issue credentials for their communities. Gateway is also building an SDK and an API that will allow its clients to directly integrate the protocol into their projects to issue credentials natively. The SDK documentation and initial use cases are scheduled to release in the first quarter of this year.
While Gateway currently serves web3 clients, Rahman said it has plans to onboard web2 companies in the future.
"It's been incredible to see the myriad of use cases forming around Gateway, with companies leveraging the technology for everything from brand development and loyalty programs to code audit certifications," Craig Burel, partner at Reciprocal Ventures, told The Block. "All of these applications are underpinned by the Gateway protocol, which we believe will define a new technical standard for digital credentials."
With fresh capital in hand, Gateway plans to continue developing its protocol. To that end, it plans to increase its current team of around 10 people by hiring engineering staff, said Rahman.
Update: Story updated to add Harisson Santos and Nuno Carvalho as co-founders.
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