Updated: Jul 14, 2022
As hype around the coming metaverse builds, Ethereum-based crypto game The Sandbox has emerged as one of the early contenders in the space. And to encourage the development of metaverse projects both within and outside the game world, The Sandbox has launched an accelerator program to invest in and mentor startups.
Alongside parent company Animoca Brands, a leading metaverse and NFT gaming investor, as well as global venture accelerator Brinc, The Sandbox has committed $50 million to invest in up to 100 startups building towards an open, interoperable metaverse. The initiative plans to work with between 30 to 40 startups per year across a three-year span.
The Sandbox Metaverse Accelerator Program will be added as a track in the existing Launchpad Luna alliance that Animoca and Brinc established in 2021. Animoca also led Brinc’s $130 million investment round in December, as the accelerator eyed a shift into Web3.
Although The Sandbox is leading the charge, the startups don’t necessarily have to be building within the game world. The goal here isn’t simply to bring in creators to develop the game’s own metaverse experience, and it’s not even specifically focused on Ethereum.
Instead, it’s aimed at the broader crypto ecosystem—at builders who want to develop interoperable platforms and pieces that can work together in an open metaverse. The three-month online program will include mentorship alongside investment, helping projects discover market-readiness and connect with partners, investors, and influencers as well.
There are Sandbox-centric incentives in the mix, however. The program will make an equity investment in each startup valued at between $150,000 to $250,000, plus up to $150,000 worth of the game’s SAND token. It will also make grants of in-game land plots, or LAND, which are sold as NFT assets and can be customized and even monetized within the game world.
The program has also amassed dozens of mentors from across the crypto and gaming industries, including Borget himself and other members of The Sandbox team, Animoca Brands Executive Chairman Yat Siu, Yield Guild Games co-founder Gabby Dizon, Kabam co-founder Holly Liu, and Lympo co-founder and CEO Ada Jonuse.
The Sandbox already has a creator fund that rewards artists and developers working within the game world. However, co-founder and COO Sebastien Borget told Decrypt that he saw an increasing number of people who wanted to help build the wider open metaverse but didn’t have the investment or support to take the next steps.
“We saw people wanting to start their own business in the metaverse, and we had no specific funds or foundation to support them properly,” he said.
While the program is interested in people making things to be used within The Sandbox, it seeks other metaverse projects as well. For example, DeFi and esports projects are encouraged, and Borget suggested that a virtual real estate platform—which could include other games besides The Sandbox—might be a good fit. Virtual land has been on the rise in recent months across The Sandbox and fellow Ethereum metaverse game, Decentraland.
In an open, interoperable metaverse—as Borget, Animoca’s Siu, and Axie Infinity co-founder Jeff Zirlin have discussed, among others—platforms and tools that help one metaverse game or platform could ultimately enrich all of them. That’s why this accelerator isn’t purely focused on supporting The Sandbox, even if it potentially stands to benefit from any resulting products.
“We're looking at startups that bring value to the overall ecosystem,” said Borget, “and we think that The Sandbox will hopefully be a great kick-starter place for them.”
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