How Blockchain Startup Venly is Reshaping How Businesses Interact with the Digital World
The Org sat down with the chief marketing officer of Venly to learn more about what led up to its Series A funding round and where the founders plan to take the company next.
By Chinue Ellis
6 minute read

Blockchain first erupted onto the scene in 2009 when the digital currency innovator Bitcoin introduced the concept of online, peer-to-peer payment. This later developed the concept of Web3, a new and better version of the internet that incorporates decentrailization and token-based economics. Today, the worldwide blockchain market has an estimated value of $7.2 billion and has given way to more blockchain and Web3 technology. As the industry continues to scale rapidly, Venly is one startup, in particular, that is quietly taking over.

“We plan to be one of the biggest tech providers in blockchain, especially when it comes to gaming and eCommerce,” Yan Ketelers, chief marketing officer of Venly, told The Org. And from the looks of the company’s speedy growth, that goal certainly seems to be on the horizon.

Making Web3 more mainstream to the masses

Founded in 2018, Venly is a blockchain technology provider that creates tools and products to help companies reap the full benefits of the blockchain. While some of the most popular and valuable blockchain services in the market today only offer a few products or can only support one type of blockchain, Venly delivers wallet, non-fungible token (NFT) and marketplace services to its customers regardless of what blockchain they use. “What makes Venly so special is that we have a complete tech suite of Web3 technology, which businesses can integrate into their processes seamlessly, and we are also blockchain-agnostic,” Ketelers said.

This full suite of offerings is what quickly caught the attention of investors and industry-leading clients. One of Venly’s very first customers was the gaming ecosystem The Sandbox, which today is one of the biggest Metaverse projects known in Web3. Now, Venly also boasts partnerships with established tech companies such as Atari, Ubisoft and Shopify.

Navigating the challenges of high growth

However, growth wasn’t always as easy as it might appear for the early-stage startup. After Venly raised its $2 million seed round in 2021, its team went from five employees to 37 in just eight months. And like so many other quickly scaling startups have experienced, high growth often comes with equally lofty growing pains. “It was a super steep hiring process and growing process. We experienced a lot of challenges with onboarding and training people remotely.” Ketelers recalled. As an early-stage organization with no dedicated HR employees on the team, all of the recruitment responsibilities became the responsibility of the small startup’s management team.

To make things more difficult, Venly was also expanding into products and services at the same time as its team was growing. “In the beginning, we were just tech providers. So we did wallets, and some APIs. But later, we built our marketplace. And then we started expanding to have more eCommerce solutions and a Shopify app,” Ketelers said. “Next, we launched our own NFT and then we grew the marketplace to a market API that companies can use. So we kept on inventing business units that all needed to be marketed, but also built and managed.”

These high-growth hardships helped Venly’s leadership team learn valuable lessons along the way—particularly about the importance of onboarding, communication and trust. “We learned that proper onboarding is very important. For many of our founders and early hires, it seems straightforward what our products do and who they're built for. But for newcomers, it's not clear at all,” Ketelers said. While the company is based in Belgium, its team operates fully remotely, and its leaders quickly realized that training and communication was difficult over Slack and Zoom—not only for the new hires who weren’t able to get all of their questions answered properly, but also for the leadership staff who found it difficult to let go of their ownership and give their employees more autonomy. “We learned a lot from the growing process, and now we are super committed to fostering a supportive and communicative company culture and plan to hire a dedicated HR team,” Ketelers said.

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What’s next for Venly

Luckily for Venly, the startup recently received the financial backing to do just that. On April 28, the company announced it raised $23 million in a Series A funding, led by Courtside Ventures with participation from Transcend Fund, Coinbase Ventures, Tioga Capital, High-Tech Gründerfonds, Fortino, Plug and Play, Leadblock Partners, Imec Istart, Powerhouse and Alpaca VC.

The funding round came sooner than the team anticipated, as Venly still had sufficient runway leftover from its seed round and was profitable as a business. But with the rising competition in the blockchain industry and persistent interest from eager investors, Venly was able to secure a sizable investment. “The series A came at the right time because all of our potential competitors were also raising money,” Ketelers said. “And we realized we needed this funding to continue our exponential growth, hire great talent, market all of our products and also invest in an accelerator program.”

The Venly team also plans to allocate its funding to further develop its current product offerings and create new products, such as gaming SDKs and more ecommerce apps. In addition, a large portion of the funding will go towards the continued expansion of the team, as Venly plans to grow from 37 employees to 100 by the end of 2022.

Looking ahead, Venly has lofty goals for how it will continue to take over the blockchain industry. “Some of our major plans are to integrate with all of the biggest platforms, tech providers and gaming engines that we know of, continue growing our customer base of end-users, wallet users and market users and make sure that all of the business units are profitable and operating well,” Ketelers said.

However, the leadership team at Venly knows that none of these goals will be possible without having a solid foundation in place to support that continued growth. “Moving forward, we want to have a strong company structure and culture where internal flows are streamlined and we are interconnected as a team so that we can better build a well-oiled machine.”

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