Editor’s note: Startland News selected 10 Kansas City scaling businesses to spotlight for its annual Startups to Watch list. Now in its eighth year, this feature recognizes founders and startups that editors believe will make some of the biggest news in the coming 12 months. The following is one of 2023’s companies.
Randy Wasinger’s entry into the world of non-fungible tokens was initially just a hobby, the founder of CryptoSlam said.
As a lifelong collector of baseball cards, he became interested in the Ethereum NFT collectible game MLB Champions.
“I was all in pretty early as far as where the industry might go,” he explained. “I realized pretty quickly that, ‘Wow, I am early. Nobody’s tracking this stuff. It’s kind of a mess.’”
Elevator pitch: CryptoSlam is the leading aggregator of non-fungible token (NFT) data from a growing list of popular blockchains, including Ethereum, Ronin, Solana, Flow, Polygon, WAX and many others. Launched in 2018 by a lifelong baseball card collector as a way to track the early Ethereum NFT collectible game MLB Champions, CryptoSlam has supported the NFT industry from its infancy by being the first to track and organize NFT data across multiple blockchains.
- Founder: Randy Wasinger
- Founding year: 2018
- Current employee count: 32
- Amount raised to date: $12.5 million
- Noteworthy investors: Mark Cuban, Ashton Kutcher, Guy O’Seary, KCRise Fund, Animoca Brands, Binance, Polygon, OKEx, Jay Rosenzweig, Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Mark Pincus (Zynga), Nigel Eccles (FanDuel), James Park (Fitbit), Randall Kaplan (Akamai Technologies), Alexandra Wilkis Wilson (Gilt.com), Kun Gao (Crunchyroll), Chris Wang (Playdom), Dennis Fong (Xfire), Greg Tseng (Tagged), Holly Liu (Kabam), Sebastien Borget (The Sandbox), Stephen Wang and Patrick Lee (co-founders of Rotten Tomatoes)
For example, Wasinger continued, if he bought a Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez collectible, he had no idea how many others existed.
“That’s a really big deal as a collector — how rare they are,” he noted. “So that is what started CryptoSlam was to go out on the blockchain and aggregate all that. And I’ve just really been riding the wave since then. Because before you know it, it expands into other projects, other blockchains, and craziness happened with the industry.”
Wasinger launched Overland Park-based CryptoSlam in 2018 and — what started as a side project — has quickly turned into a startup that is a leading provider of data and transparency for the NFT industry and has garnered $12.5 million in funding, including from celebrity investors like billionaire Mark Cuban and actor Ashton Kutcher. Other notable investors include LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Fitbit founder James Park, the co-founders of Rotten Tomatoes, and regional venture capital firm KCRise Fund.
While watching a Kansas City Chiefs game with his wife, he received a Twitter message from the famed celebrity entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” star.
“We actually got Mark Cuban early on,” he explained. “He was an angel investor, so the very first investor in CryptoSlam besides myself because I bootstrapped for a couple of years. And that was really neat because I didn’t have to pitch him. He literally offered because he was a CryptoSlam user.”
When the NFT industry really started to take off in January 2021, Wasinger continued, Cuban was using CryptoSlam to keep track of his Dallas Mavericks on the blockchain in NBA Top Shot.
“At the time there was one place to go to get that and it was CryptoSlam,” he added. “So that was really cool.”
At the beginning of 2022, the company announced the closing of its oversubscribed $9 million capital raise — led by Animoca Brands. Wasinger said the funding has allowed the team to grow from a dozen people to 32.
“We put that directly into infrastructure from a human resource perspective, as well as from an IT perspective,” he explained. “As you might imagine, when you track pretty much every data point on every blockchain as it’s grown, it’s become a lot more costly to store, track, and organize it. So the strategic seed round certainly helped with that.”
CryptoSlam is poised to have a strong year ahead despite the “continued carnage” expected from the NFT industry bubble bursting, Wasinger said, which he likened to the dotcom bubble bursting in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“Whereas (the NFT industry) was flying high for the longest time and we were drinking through a firehose, just trying to keep up, it’s a lot different now,” he explained. “And honestly, it’s a lot different in a good way. Because as an infrastructure provider, we can really focus on laying the groundwork for what’s to come without having to keep up with the hot flavor of the day, which may only be hot for two weeks or even even two days.”
CryptoSlam plans to be strategic and opportunistic, he continued, during a time when the market has taken a downturn.
“A lot of — what I call — junk has been flushed out and I think we’ll be left with the more valuable innovations in the industry,” he added. “And I just can’t wait to see what people come up with next. I do know that we’ll be there to track the data and to tell the story of all the fun stuff that’s coming out.”
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