Courtyard, the physically-backed NFT platform, today announced it has raised $7 million in seed funding by global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with participation from Y Combinator, OpenSea Ventures, VaynerFund, Brink’s, Cherry Ventures, and a select group of angel investors. The company has built cutting-edge blockchain infrastructure that allows physical collectibles to be owned and traded as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for greater liquidity. The new capital will help fuel product development, hiring, and expansion within Courtyard’s target market.
There are inherent frictions in the way high-value physical goods are bought and sold. Transactions can take several days and are prone to shipping delays, international restrictions, and outright scams. Courtyard makes it possible for ownership of physical collectibles to be instantly transferred anywhere in the world in a secure way through NFTs, without the physical item itself needing to be moved.
“We are excited to build a future-forward foundation for commerce,” said Nicolas le Jeune, Co-founder and CEO of Courtyard. “Most of us on the Courtyard team are collectors in some form who’ve experienced the hassles of trading firsthand. We are eager to introduce brands and consumers to the future of buying and selling physical assets and empower them with the control, transparency, and security that have been missing from the collector ecosystem thus far.”
Courtyard has partnered with Brink’s, the global leader in total cash management, route-based secure logistics and payment solutions, to ensure the highest levels of security and accountability for physical asset storage. When a customer purchases a physical asset through Courtyard, they receive an NFT complete with a custom 3D rendering of the asset to display in the digital world. The corresponding physical asset gets authenticated, insured and stored in a Brink’s-operated vault. The NFT acts as a digital voucher for proof of ownership and authenticity, and enables the physical asset to be traded without having to be physically moved around or re-authenticated at each sale. At any point, the owner of the NFT can choose to redeem it in exchange for the physical asset. Courtyard leverages Brink’s unmatched global footprint to provide secure transport around the world.
“Investing in Courtyard represents an exciting digital extension of Brink’s secure storage and transportation capabilities, as we continue to explore new trends and technology,” said Oliver Buckle-Wright, Brink’s Senior Commercial Director. “By securing the physical items represented by NFTs on the blockchain, we create a bridge between offline and digital marketplaces, giving collectors reassurance that their high-value items are secure.”
“Collectibles are a $400B+ global market ranging from trading cards, watches, and sneakers to fine art, exotic cars, and everything in between,” said Jonathan Golden, Partner at NEA. “Courtyard has built a solution that takes advantage of the massive rise in NFT popularity and utilizes innovative blockchain technology to solve real-life, physical problems faced by millions of collectors around the world. We’re thrilled to partner with Nico, Paulin, and the Courtyard team to modernize the collectibles industry and create better, more secure, transaction and ownership experiences.”
Courtyard is redefining physical asset ownership through Connected Collectibles – a new, frictionless way of storing and trading physical goods. They believe that blockchain technology has the potential to transform the $370B collectible market and want to provide additional liquidity to remove the friction inherent to trading high value assets. This is a key application of blockchain technology that solves a problem in the physical world.
New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) is a global venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With nearly $24 billion in cumulative committed capital since the firm’s founding in 1977, NEA invests in technology and healthcare companies at all stages in a company’s lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm’s track record of investing includes more than 260 portfolio company IPOs and more than 430 mergers and acquisitions.
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