Chennai-based GuardianLink has developed an NFT framework that powers some of the country’s leading NFTs such as BigPunks of Amitabh Bachchan, and Stan Lee’s NFTs
The startup recently raised $12 Mn in Series A funding led by Kalaari Capital
Cofounder and CEO Ramkumar Subramaniam talks to Inc42 on NFTs in India, and how the speculative banning of the same is going to impact payments
After Amitabh Bachchan’s record NFTs auction garnered over a million dollars, Chennai-based blockchain startup GuardianLink has now auctioned off Marvel’s co-creator Stan Lee’s perhaps last comic hero creation, Chakra, The Invincible. Like Big B’s, Chakra’s NFT collection is being hosted on NFT marketplace BeyondLife.club in partnership with Hollywood studio Orange Commet.
Founded in 2016, GuardianLink has been focusing on building NFT launchpads and is currently supporting 40+ NFT marketplaces globally.
The latest Chakraverse limited edition NFT collection which dropped on December 28 — on Stan Lee’s 99th birth anniversary — is a collectable series of 7,000 unique Chakraverse art pieces based on the characters from the comics. Within a few hours of the NFT dropping, the Loot Box that contained 6,865 NFTs at $25 each was sold out.
Besides NFT drops, GuardianLink recently also made news for raising $12 Mn Series A funding led by Kalaari Capital. The VC firm has invested in three blockchain-based startups WazirX exchange, Signzy, and now GuardianLink. Kalaari, however, exited WazirX after Binance acquired it.
This is also the biggest fund raised by an NFT startup in India. And, this is just the beginning of the NFT market in the country. What the future beholds is bigger, better and shared with Web 3.0, metaverse, crypto and gaming in India—- feels cofounder and CEO Ramkumar Subramaniam, GuardianLink .
Recently, Inc42 spoke to Subramaniam on NFT, regulations and other related subjects. Excerpts:
Inc42: What made you enter the NFT space?
Ramkumar Subramaniam: We have been a blockchain R&D startup for the last four years. Over these years, we developed social coins, framework for dozens of exchanges and fungible marketplaces across the globe. We built over 60 blockchain-based products.
However, in the last two years, we closely saw what’s happening with the NFT space and decided to develop its framework too. In 2020, we launched the NFT launchpad for NFT entities. And, since then we have sold it to over 40+ entities worldwide.
Inc42: What’s the NFT potential you see in India?
Ramkumar Subramaniam: The NFT market is definitely getting into a space with a purpose to it. If I buy an NFT, I have a reason to buy it and use it. So the purpose of buying an NFT is being established, utilities are being given. If someone buys an NFT, they will be able to use it in a game, metaverse, or other applications.
That’s where NFT is progressing to the actual essence of NFTs even with the brands we’re partnering with or the entities we’re launching. People would benefit in the long term. So that’s our idea. And that’s how the market will progress.
Inc42: Which blockchain have you deployed to develop NFT Launchpad?
Ramkumar Subramaniam: We have worked on multiple platforms including Etherium, Polygon, Avalanche and Solana. We deployed the last two NFTs on Polygon. Besides having a friendly relationship with its founders, Polygon offers low gas fees and high scalability.
We are however agnostic about working on other blockchains.
Inc42: Having not raised any institutional funding in the past, why Series A now?
Ramkumar Subramaniam: Our revenue model has been product-centric. That’s why we have been profitable since the beginning. So, we’ve never really bothered to think of funding.
Now that we have created this product, we knew that funding would really help us scale and establish globally. This is why we raised institutional funding this time.
Inc42: How much time did it take you to convince Kalaari?
Ramkumar Subramaniam: We were able to close the funding within a month. Partly because we knew Kalaari through our networks. So, the entire funding went smoothly. We had a meeting with Kalaari and after which we did the required due diligence and they went ahead.
Partly also, because the space is very irresistibly tempting. It is very likely for them to want to get into the space as well.
Inc42: How are you going to utilise the funding?
Ramkumar Subramaniam: The funding is primarily for scaling marketing and hiring as well. We look to hire global talents, as we are also setting up offices in Singapore and Japan. We plan to hire design and product design teams across these places.
Apart from that, we’re also in the lookout for interesting projects and firms with whom we can partner with or acquire as well.
Inc42: NFTs are meant to stop art thefts, it hasn’t. Your comments.
Ramkumar Subramaniam: All these kinds of issues do come because along with the market, the technology too is maturing. In fact, we are working on something called the legitimacy protocol framework which helps find if an NFT’s replicas are available anywhere. It will then notify the artists that there is a replica of their NFT being shown up in another marketplace. The artist can choose to take it from there. So we’re building a product for that.
We have also built a product called ‘Anti.Rip’, which helps encrypt the NFTs if the owner doesn’t want to reveal it, only the buyer of the NFT will be able to see it. We will use this technology as an encrypted model, that will be on IPFS (InterPlanetary File System); but only the wallet holder who has the ownership of the NFT will be able to see and no one else. So we’ve built this as a proprietary technology.
So these are the properties that we’re building to overcome hurdles and issues.
Inc42: If the government bans crypto for payments, how will it impact India’s NFT market?
Ramkumar Subramaniam: If it happens, there would be a hit on NFTs. But I don’t see that as a long-term hit because people buy NFTs for a purpose and that’s how they progress on to.
NFTs will be adapted to buy with Fiat and they will be able to hold on to the NFTs trading and using it as well. Even with our launches recently done, we went for Fiat and crypto payments, and we have seen almost equal traction.