Sloika, a photography-centric NFT platform, has raised $2 million in seed funding.
Ev Tchebotarav, founder of photo-sharing site 500px, is one of Sloika’s co-founders.
Photography are rising in both profile and demand, with a growing pack of notable artists selling shots for sizable sums, while well-known NFT collectors make a concerted push towards amassing photos.
Now, a new platform called Sloika aims to help even more photographers enter the NFT space with a dedicated platform. Today, it announced a $2 million seed round led by 1confirmation.
Sloika was co-founded by Ev Tchebotarav and Arseniy Ivanov, the founder and first employee, respectively, of an online photo-sharing platform called 500px. After growing that community to tens of millions of users, they’re now aiming to help photographers capture value in the NFT space.
Unlike OpenSea, which is like Amazon or eBay for NFTs, Sloika is solely focused on photos. Images in the curated drops are given a larger canvas on the Sloika website than you’d find on a typical NFT marketplace, and photographers aren’t fighting for attention with flashy profile picture collections or animated cryptoart compositions. Sloika’s platform also allows creators full control over key details like rights and royalties.
“None of the platforms care about photography rights. On Sloika, every single series that drops has embedded photography rights. It’s those little things,” Tchebotarav told Decrypt. “We want to go deep and start solving photographers’ problems, like: How do they promote themselves? How do they value their work?”
An NFT acts as a deed of ownership to a provably scarce digital item, whether it’s a photo, illustration, video file, or something else. The NFT market boomed earlier this year and has only grown larger over the course of 2021, with a record-setting $10.67 billion worth of total trading volume in Q3, according to data from DappRadar.
Photography has gained momentum in recent months in the NFT space. Justin Aversano is arguably the best-known photographer in NFTs thus far, as his Twin Flames collection counts collectors such as Snoop Dogg and Gary Vaynerchuk, with one piece selling for $1.1 million at a Christie’s auction in October.
Other notable photographers in the NFT space include Isaac “Drift” Wright, Cath Simard, and Dave Krugman, while major collectors like punk6529 and WhaleShark have both amplified their photo NFT purchasing of late. Aversano also recently launched Quantum Art, a photo-centric NFT platform, and is a part of RAW DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) focused on collecting photo NFTs.
Tchebotarav and Ivanov co-founded Sloika this summer to try and accelerate the rise of photo NFTs, and help photographers monetize their work through the medium.
In a blog post announcing the investment, 1confirmation General Partner Nick Tomaino, one of the first employees at Coinbase, wrote that Web 2 platforms like Facebook and Twitter suck up much of the value when photographers share their work online. With the rise of Web 3 and the paradigm of NFTs representing ownership, he wrote, photographers can now benefit from direct digital sales to collectors and have more control over their work and livelihood.
Sloika to usher in ‘killer app for NFTs’
In addition to 1confirmation, Sloika’s $2 million seed round includes investment from SuperRare founder and CEO John Crain, Manifold founder and CEO Eric Diep, LogDNA co-founder Christopher Nguyen, and tech accelerator South Park Commons. Sloika has also launched a $20,000 monthly grant program to help young women photographers mint their first NFTs.
Tchebotarav sees significant opportunity ahead in the photo NFT space, but believes that there’s work to be done as new photographers navigate the space—including a need for some to be “more vulnerable” and share their personal stories, as Aversano has already done. As they do so, the Sloika co-founder believes that a much larger base of collectors will emerge.
“We just have to be patient and we just have to keep telling stories of those photographers,” said Tchebotarav. “I think there will be a lot more collectors that will start seeing photography as the ultimate killer app for NFTs.”