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Estonian NFT infrastructure startup NFTPort raises $26m Series A round

Backed by Atomico and Taavet+Sten, the Tallinn-based startup, founded in 2021, is bringing much-needed infrastructure to a booming sector.

By Kit Gillet

NFTPort's cofounders

NFTPort, an Estonian NFT infrastructure-for-developers startup, has raised a $26m Series A round as it looks to benefit from the massive growth in non-fungible tokens.

What does NFTPort do?

Put simply, the company builds NFT infrastructure for developers. Its mission is to create the infrastructure that will underpin and enable developers to bring to market their own NFT applications in hours or days, rather than months. The company, founded in 2021, claims it can save clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.

“When a company decides to build their NFT infrastructure today, it would either have to expend significant sums of money for scarce Web3 developers, or invest time upskilling a Web2 developer to carry out the work,” says Johannes Tammekänd, NFTPort’s CEO and cofounder.

NFTPort’s infrastructure provides three key pillars that most companies need in order to build NFT products: data APIs (application programming interfaces), minting APIs and user safety APIs.

Tammekänd says that managing constantly evolving blockchain technology can quickly become a multimillion-dollar problem for companies wishing to build their own NFT infrastructure. “Demand will only increase further as NFTs move beyond images, which will compound pre-existing supply-side issues.”

Who’s investing?

The round was led by Atomico and Taavet+Sten, the investment vehicle of Taavet Hinrikus and Sten Tamkivi, cofounders of Wise and Teleport, respectively.

Tamkivi is set to join the team as a cofounder, alongside Rain Johanson, the former chief technology officer of Bolt, who is joining as CTO and cofounder.

“NFTPort’s role is to add meat to the [Web3] bones, to build the scaffolding in the form of APIs and decentralised protocols for developers to be able to deliver on the promise of a citizen-owned internet,” says Tamkivi.

Tammekänd says that bringing Johanson and Tamkivi onboard as cofounders means a large part of the company’s future success lies also on them. “They are all-in,” he says.

Additional investors include Filecoin creator Protocol Labs, Sparkle Ventures, IDEO CoLab Ventures, Polygon cofounder Jaynti Kanani, former Twilio CTO Ott Kaukver, former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, and Polkadot cofounder Jutta Steiner.

What’s the market like?

Interest in NFTs has exploded in the last year, with billions flowing into the space and seemingly everyone from athletes to artists to film stars jumping on the bandwagon.

Global sales of NFTs hit $37bn between January and the end of April, according to a report by blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, almost equal to the $40bn raised in 2021.

Meanwhile, NFTPort is already being used by over 30k developer teams, and as of March 2022 developers have minted over a million NFTs on Polygon using NFTPort, 10% of all NFTs minted on the Polygon chain.

What’s next for NFTPort?

NFTPort is aiming to double down on scaling its core product and bringing to market a decentralised NFT infrastructure protocol. It says it will use the new funding to further develop its NFT infrastructure offer and enable the next phase of digital ownership on the internet.

Building infrastructure is capital expenditure-intensive in the initial phases, meaning a lot of the money will go into scaling existing infrastructure, while also expanding into new chains and offering a more complete product in terms of NFT infrastructure. Tammekänd says they expect headcount to grow by more than 50 people over the next 12 months.

However, he says that bringing to market a decentralised NFT infrastructure protocol is the only way for Web3 to reach its true potential.

Sifted’s take

Given the massive interest in NFTs right now, and likely going forward, there is a real need for companies offering the necessary infrastructure to make it all happen.

The fact that NFTPort has such strong backers and has brought onboard experienced entrepreneurs who can help to guide it bodes well for the company, and shows a real ambition for the young startup.

Given the likely rewards, the NFT infrastructure space is going to see plenty more players going forward, but NFTPort is certainly one to watch out for in the future.

Kit Gillet is Sifted’s eastern Europe correspondent. He tweets from @KitGillet

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