Multi-sig startup Den raised $2.8 million to build a wallet that will help dispersed teams and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) easily and quickly execute transactions.
The round, which closed early last year, is led by IDEO CoLab Ventures. Other investors include Gnosis, Lemniscap and Spice Capital, as well as angel investors such as former Coinbase chief technology officer Balaji Srinivasan and Not Boring Capital's Packy McCormick.
The idea was formed out of a frenzied few days experienced by Jonah Erlich and Ittai Svidler who played a core role in ConstitutionDAO. They had tried to get multiple DAO members to sign off on an essential transaction ahead of the auction to buy the U.S. Constitution.
The inside story of ConstitutionDAO
"A lot of people know the story from the outside," Svidler said in an interview with The Block. "But what they don't know is on the inside we had to do what was called proof of funds to show that we had the money to participate in the auction. Originally we were told that we could do it in ether, but 48 hours before the deadline we actually were told that we had to do it in fiat, which led to us finding a way to swap all the assets into fiat to participate in the auction."
As the DAO's assets were managed using a multi-signature wallet, the DAO need to have nine of 13 multisig signers approve the transaction.
"We were running around Manhattan trying to get the signers to sign off on the transaction," Svidler said. "Going to coffee shops, co-working spaces, offices, just trying to find them to get them to approve it."
"That process was a nightmare and so that's what led us to Den," he added.
Erlich and Svidler found that they weren't alone with these struggles and started building Den straight after ConstitutionDAO in November 2021. The startup is already working with over 200 teams including PleasrDAO and OlympusDAO.
"It wasn't that we built it and sold it," Svidler said. "It was really building it alongside these DAOs to make sure that we actually solve their problems."
Nailing the user experience
For many of these teams there is a lot of fear using existing wallets with several building workarounds to help optimize the process, Svidler said. Den is trying to cater to those needs with features such as automatic recurring notifications as well as simplifying and automating as many technical transaction details as possible.
"Trends are diverging where, on one end, on-chain interactions are becoming more complex, and on the other end, on-chain users are becoming less technically sophisticated as more and more folks on board over time," said Erlich, adding that Den is trying to make complicated transactions possible in a way that is straightforward for less technical teams.
Den's lead investor IDEO CoLab Ventures has a rich history in product design and user experience, which is a core focus for the team, Erlich said. Den's wallet is currently for desktop based on existing customer needs.
"I think one of the most exciting parts of the fundraise was that a ton of the teams or individuals that were really using Den within these teams wanted to participate in the round after they used the product," Svidler said.
The funds from the raise have been put toward building out the product, Erlich said. The three-person startup is currently hiring for engineers, he added.
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