Walmart experiments with generative AI tools that can help you plan a party or decorate

Walmart’s incubation arm, Store Nº8, and Outlier Ventures have joined forces to launch its web3 accelerator program, Store Nº8 Base Camp. TechCrunch got a first look at its cohort.

The 12-week virtual incubator program brought in a flagship group of five companies that specialize in web3 marketing, advertising and improving payment technology, among other themes. The startups are based in the U.S., Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom.

“At Walmart, we see the growth and expansion of increasingly immersive virtual worlds as not only a chance to develop new ways to meet and engage with our customers, but also an opportunity to experiment with a new type of commerce,” said Thomas Kang, VP and GM at Walmart and for the metaverse commerce at Store Nº8.

Web3 allows customers to buy virtual goods but also real-world counterparts, providing an opportunity to connect physical and virtual lives, Kang said. “Over the next year, you’ll see us test a variety of experiences in virtual worlds that connect to commerce at stores and vice versa.”

The program is focused on “decentralized commerce,” which means improving experiences for retailers and consumers through web3 innovation.

Last month, Pudgy Penguins, best known for its 8,888 NFT collection, launched its toy line in over 2,000 Walmart stores across the U.S. “We believe that decentralized commerce offers a significant opportunity to break down commerce into its fundamental elements, transforming it into a more decentralized and adaptable framework of protocols,” said Outlier Ventures CPO Benjamin Meyer. “This shift aims to enhance efficiency, trust, equity and overall user experience for both retailers and consumers globally.”

The program is protocol agnostic and teams are operating across a range of blockchains. Each project received $200,000 stipends from Synergis Capital and enterprise advising from KPMG U.S. The startups will also have access and support from Store Nº8’s networks across e-commerce, retail, marketing, media, web3, gaming and venture.

Although crypto is in an ongoing bear market, the incubation arm — and other accelerator programs — are hopeful for the future. “This challenging period is also an opportunity for founders to refine their core value proposition and gain market traction, fostering a culture of innovation and efficiency,” said Ruth Galvin, program manager at Outlier Ventures.

More than 370 startups applied and just these five teams made it to the final cohort.

Company name: HypeLab

What it does: web3 advertising

Founders: Joe Kim, Edward Weng

Stage: Seed

The pitch: HypeLab wants to make web3 advertising simple. It aims to help companies get their products in front of web3 users through its design services like its “self-service advertiser portal,” which can help build campaign assets. The startup also provides on-chain and off-chain options for advertisers to pick where their ads are placed. It offers users a software development kit that can insert advertisements into decentralized applications “in 20 minutes or less,” according to the company. It’s backed by investors from Coinbase Ventures, Shima Capital, Dispersion Capital, OP Crypto and others.

Company name: Reveel

What it does: Programmable payout infra

Founder: Adrien Stern

Stage: Seed

The pitch: Reveel is an on-chain payout infrastructure and creator tool that can help startups automate their accounting and payout infrastructure. Its ecosystem consists of a number of applications, brands and networks like Ethereum, Polygon, Alchemy and Zora, according to its website. The platform helps startups manage all of their revenue through one dashboard as well as provide customizable payment flows. The infrastructure is multi-chain friendly and allows for any token to be processed on its platform. Developers can also implement Reveel’s revenue-sharing protocol into their projects through its software development kit so creators can share their revenue with others. Its backed by Binance Labs, Moment Ventures, Anamcara and Pixelynx.

Company name: Tide Protocol

What it does: Data-driven web3 marketing

Founders: Silvio Busonero, Vincenzo Manzon

Stage: Seed

The pitch: Tide Protocol is a marketing and analytics suite that helps web3 startups create and customize marketing campaigns. It’s powered by Polygon Studios and works on any Ethereum-compatible blockchain, without the need of a coding background. It is backed by Outlier Ventures, according to Crunchbase.

Company name: Tokenguard

What it does: Analytics platform for web3 growth

Founders: Kamil Gorski, Jakub Rojek, Damian Rolek

Stage: Pre-seed

The pitch: Tokenguard is an analytics platform focused on helping web3 projects grow. It supports blockchains and crypto projects like Polkadot, Moonbean, Aleph Zero, Astar, Kusama and more. The platform provides decentralized applications as well as on-chain and off-chain analytics, ecosystem growth tracking and crypto APIs. It is backed by Outlier Ventures and NCBR Investment Fund ASI S.A., according to Crunchbase.

Company name: Unblock

What it does: Cross-border payments

Founders: Bivu Das, Rémi Tuyaerts, Alastair Preacher, Didier Baclin

Stage: Seed

The pitch: Unblock’s portal helps enable business payments in web3 through its free API infrastructure. It also helps simplify the on-and-off-ramping process into crypto. Its API-based solutions can remove complications associated with user KYC, and help customers with compliance, risk monitoring and more. The platform is available for businesses, individuals and applications through its white-label API and provides transfer speeds under 20 seconds and transaction fees starting at 0.5%. It is backed by Outlier Ventures, Celo Ecosystem and others, according to Crunchbase.

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