Open Web Collective Doubles Down on Web3 with New Venture Arm, Names New Partner

Open Web Collective is an early-stage blockchain fund and accelerator spun out of NEAR Protocol.

Quick take:

  • The new venture arm is named OWC Ventures.
  • OWC Ventures is backed by Digital Currency Group and the NEAR protocol.
  • The venture arm is still in the process of fundraising.

Blockchain and Web3 accelerator Open Web Collective (OWC) today announced the launch of a new venture arm called OWC Ventures. With backing from Digital Currency Group and NEAR Foundation (which OWC spun out of), OWC Ventures is doubling down on Web3 investments. 

This new division is co-led by Jeff Lavoie, Head of Investments, who was recently named Partner at OWC and serves as a member of the fund’s Investment Committee. Lavoie brings with him two decades of investment experience in technology and consumer companies and funds with him to OWC. He has also been involved in the crypto community since its early days. 

His track record includes early investments in disruptors like Airbnb, Amazon, Block (fka Square), IQVIA and Skype. He also made early investments in several Layer-1 blockchain protocols across Web3 infrastructure, developer tools, and consumer crypto startups.

Prior to OWC, Lavoie held senior investment roles at Dyal Capital, PIMCO and CPP Investments, and he was recently Partner and Head of Asset Management at SP Capital, which he led from inception to its sale to PNC Bank. 

The venture arm is still in the process of fundraising but its team expects to raise a “$20 million vehicle for pre-seed to Series A deals with co-investment opportunities,” according to TechCrunch.

Lavoie told TechCrunch that OWC Ventures is going to focus on empowering developers. He also mentioned that OWC Ventures is capturing much of NEAR’s ethos and DNA which is to focus on user experience and create the next leaders in Web3.

Founded in 2020, the OWC Accelerator is now in its 4th batch and its 26 alumni companies have raised over $360 million in capital. The latest batch is looking to take in 15 companies at the pre-seed and seed stages.

Its founders learn and work with leading blockchain companies, entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and investors via its community and partners like NEAR, NOMAD, and IPFS to validate/invalidate business ideas and decisions, build products, define and grow KPIs, develop product-market fit, and fundraise.

OWC has so far supported 28 startups which have gone on to raise cumulatively $3 million in venture funding as of April 2022. Startups in the accelerator receive an initial $150,000 investment in exchange for 7% equity/token stake, with the opportunity to receive an additional $500,000 arising from the Demo Day.

Besides investing in developers, OWC Ventures will also deploy funds in DeFi, SocialFi and gaming. 

“We’re evolving the way in which we’re going to play in the web3 space and move forward web3 adoption,” Mildred Idada, founder and general partner of OWC, told TechCrunch. “We’ve been spending time on the earliest stages pre-seed and seed, but with this new roll out we’re excited to move into Series A and other focus areas.”

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