Web3 in India
Jan 3, 2022
GM 2022, hope you all had a safe and wondrous New Years Eve. We’re back with the newsletter in 2022 and will cover a a bunch of fun stories as the Indian ecosystem continues to boom. The frenzy of the last two quarters got a little too out of hand for us to track, but Manish at TechCrunch did a fantastic job of rounding up all the stories from the year. Indian startups collectively raised $39B, which is largest in a calendar year by a significant margin. We also saw companies scale faster and shorten the time between successive rounds and saw Indian companies go public (Zomato, Paytm, Nykaa and Freshworks) to recycle capital and people in the ecosystem. But the biggest news from 2021 was the re-emergence of the Indian crypto ecosystem with two crypto exchanges- CoinDCX and Coinswitch becoming unicorns. Polygon, a project that originated from India, is now the 14th largest cryptocurrency as per CoinMarketCap and has had a phenomenal 2021 with developers and communities rushing to contribute to the growing ecosystem.
And like millions others, 2021 was probably the first year where I started consuming information about crypto more actively. Hence, we thought we’d round off 2021 and start off 2022 by asking people who’ve been building and investing in India what projects from the ecosystem they’re excited about:
“2021 was the year NFTs went mainstream globally with over $20B in trading volumes. And while we have seen more adoption in western countries, it hasn’t been the same in India yet. A large part of that has been because crypto on-ramps in the country aren’t great so getting your ETH or SOL to a non-custodial wallet like Rainbow or Phantom often requires several steps which aren’t intuitive to first-time users. I’m very excited for FanCraze’s upcoming launch this year because they are bringing one of India’s largest source of entertainment on-chain: Cricket. The company also has an official license with the ICC (International Cricket Council) and are building on top of the Flow blockchain (the underlying chain that NBA Top Shot is also built on). If FanCraze is able to crack the on-ramp experience and make funding your wallet or buying NFTs as easy as doing a UPI transaction, I think they will do large volumes in India. India is a country obsessed with cricket so both moments of iconic cricket matches and moments of popular cricketers that the company is partnering with will be wildly popular.”
"They're particularly interesting because they are a company that has decided to never hire anyone. All the work is done by the community. They do community calls to even figure out what exactly they'll build. They are building tooling for defi including a dex in zk roll-ups. Very cutting edge tech, very idealistic decentralisation principles. They're going to be huge and no one knows it yet”
“Even as web3 has made inroads among consumers, investors and speculators in recent years, the developer base that is building web3 projects remains very tiny. Questbook is attempting to fix this gap. It helps web2 developers transition to web3 and contribute to open source web3 projects.”
“For 2022, I am most excited about Indigg. Across the world, Play to Earn games have made a strong impact in 2021, and I see that expanding to India now. Indigg is the perfect partnership between Polygon and YGG to foster this nascent ecosystem here in India.”
“Biconomy offers plug and play SDKs and APIs which help offer user friendly experience on decentralised applications by removing multiple friction points (flipping the gas fee to be paid by the app instead of the user, or allowing user to pay gas fee in ERC20 tokens, or enabling cross chain transfers). This reduces user churn and significantly enhances engagement. Biconomy’s middleware is blockchain agnostic. Its is a pick-and-shovel business, which enables developers to create user-friendly decentralised applications, just by integrating a few lines of code. This removal of friction on both sides (user and developer) makes DApps accessible to masses and expands the market manifold. They have a strong community - BICO token listed earlier this month and are trading at a solid market cap of $250M. They have partnered with 35 decentralised applications till date (across NFTs, gaming and Defi). Discord channel has 110k+ members and ~60k twitter followers. Most importantly - exceptional team - Aniket, Ahmed and Sachin are crypto native and have solid background in web.
We at Nexus, having had deep experience in developer tools, open source companies and infrastructure companies like Postman, Hasura, H2O, Minio, Gluster, etc, are very excited about deep tech infra / dev tool in web3, and see Biconomy as poster child for such a company being created out of India.
“This might be a left field choice, but I’ve been really impressed with the work Tanay Pratap, Manish Maheshwari and the founding team at Invact Metaversity have done so far to build ‘the future of business education’. I’m of the belief that more and more of our social experiences online will start to resemble the environments and user experience of popular games like Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft. This will be no different for education, which is delivered best as a social activity, where the richness of a persistent 3D interface helps to enhance the learning experience and bring it as close as possible to the real thing. I’m bullish on the potential of Web3 to decentralise identity management and credentialing for the average Internet user - you should be able to manage your own identity and take it with you across the internet. And you should be able to ‘store’ your credentials as a form of tokenised inventory (NFTs) which can be easily used as a cryptographic proof-of-accomplishment for any person or institution that wants to assess your qualifications. Higher education is one of the last bastions of centralised identity management and accreditation. From the outside looking in, Invact Metaversity has a real chance to make an impact in this space. Its early days, but all the noises from the team suggest that they are on the right path.”
“My project - Indigg. 300M gamers in India, thriving secondary market for in game goods. When this combines with contours of web3 gaming (clear ownership trails, unlocking a clean secondary market, chance to earn), it can explode. A high quality guild will catalyze this. Given the experience and the chops, my bet is that it would be IndiGG.”
“I am really excited to see how Coinshift plays out - If 2021 was the year of NFTs, 2022 will be the year of DAOs - and Coinshift's treasury management and payouts infrastructure is a critical tool to enable DAO success and mass coordination. Most DAO assets today are held in native tokens - a high risk proposition, especially as we approach the early stages of a crypto winter. As Coinshift builds out its comprehensive product suite, it has the potential to become one of the most meaningful infrastructure companies in this space, stewarded by a mission driven founder.”
I’ve been following the NFT space and while folks might think NFTs are so 2021, we haven’t actually seen NFTs go mainstream in India. How and if this changes will be worth keeping an eye out on I think. As Anmol has already noted there are some structural challenges to NFTs taking off in India. The one player that meaningfully tried to overcome those and build a South Asian NFT marketplace has been WazirX.
The Binance-backed company has built a South-Asian centric NFT marketplace with a robust community for creators and collectors to easily share, trade NFTs, which can be bought using WRX tokens.
I’m keen to see how Wazirx’s NFT marketplace develops, but more importantly also see what other marketplaces develop and come up!
This is definitely an exciting time in web3 and I am excited to see all the projects to come out of India. I’ve especially been impressed by all the young builders in the space, which is why I helped launch the Jugaad Grant- we’re giving 3 grants to Indian Gen Z builders to help them build a web3 project. If you’ve been ideating about something or working on a project, please apply! I also wanted to give a shoutout to a couple of builders who have just gotten started on their projects- Kunal has been doing a fantastic job building Solana projects, namely wagmi.bio and the team of Anoushk, Daksh and xyz building Metapass are one to look out for in the coming year.
We’d also love to hear from you about your favorite web3 project from India and why you’re excited about them so feel free to leave a comment, tweet at us or DM us! And if you’re someone building a company in the space and think we could help out, we’d love to chat at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com