IYK, a leading startup in the tech-connected apparel industry, has announced seed funding of $16.8 million to further enhance its NFT-driven infrastructure. The funding round was led by venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from other notable investors including Collab + Currency, 1kx, Lattice Capital, Synergis Capital, Palm Tree Crew, and Coop Records. The round also included contributions from Web3 creators and entrepreneurs such as Art Blocks founder and CEO Erick Calderon, 9dcc fashion brand founder gmoney, and Quantum Art co-founder Justin Aversano.
IYK specializes in providing near field communication (NFC) chips that can be embedded into apparel and other products, along with the necessary infrastructure to connect them to blockchain tokens or NFTs. This technology allows consumers to scan a connected item, such as a t-shirt or cap, with their smartphones to access a tokenized certificate of authenticity. Additionally, these tokens can serve as access passes to digital content and communities.
The startup has already collaborated with prominent traditional brands like Adidas, Atlantic Records, Billionaire Boys Club, and Johnnie Walker, as well as crypto brands like Coinbase, MNTGE, Pudgy Penguins, and 9dcc. For example, Adidas released a limited run of 512 tokenized t-shirts for the NFT NYC convention earlier this year, with IYK’s NFTs used to authenticate and add digital “Alter Egos” to each shirt. MNTGE utilizes IYK’s technology to pair customized vintage jeans and jackets with digital twins that have potential future utility in online worlds. 9dcc has benefited from IYK’s chips to authenticate limited-run drops and power a loyalty program, offering a digital signature feature that permanently ties the signature to the Ethereum NFT.
“We’re all about empowering creators to build these digi-physical experiences,” said IYK co-founder Ryan Ouyang. The versatility of IYK’s technology allows it to be embedded in various products, including clothing and wallet-sized cards or placards at events. By tapping their smartphones on these items, consumers can potentially unlock access to real-world or online events, exclusive digital content, and more.
Importantly, the IYK platform does not require a smartphone app, and companies do not necessarily have to use IYK’s web domain. Almost any modern iPhone or Android phone can activate the NFC chip, providing brands with the freedom to develop customized digital content and experiences tied to the exclusive NFT pass.
Until now, IYK primarily collaborated with brands directly to develop and deploy chips and activations. However, with the launch of the IYK Platform, companies can onboard into the ecosystem and conveniently select from different NFC chip types and form factors. The platform aims to streamline the overall process, allowing companies to experiment and plug into IYK’s infrastructure using its API tools without manual intervention.
The integration of tech-connected apparel offers various benefits for brands. One key advantage is the ability to build a community around the brand and reward loyal customers with exclusive benefits and rewards. Furthermore, it enables brands to maintain an ongoing connection with their customers even after the initial sale, providing valuable data and insights to enhance their offerings.
IYK’s co-founder Christopher Lee believes that their technology can help create a better relationship between consumers and brands. By leveraging the power of NFTs and NFC chips, IYK aims to revolutionize the fashion and product industry, bridging the gap between the physical and digital realms to deliver unique and immersive experiences for consumers.