“The metaverse to us is not a virtual space that people go to spend time in. It’s a world in which we can add more context to your real world and make your real world more enjoyable,” Sandu told. “We’re going to be responsible for catalyzing a completely new generation to be more conscious of their environment; more conscious of how they spend and how they buy.”
“It’s always crypto winter being a Black founder.” Iddris Sandu, founder, Spatial Labs
As of today, Spatial Labs, a web3 infrastructure and hardware business, has closed a $10 million seed round headed by Blockchain Capital and included investment from Marcy Venture Partners, the firm co-founded by Jay-Z. In 2021, Iddris Sandu started Spatial Labs with the intention of developing augmented reality (AR) goods and shopping experiences.
Last year, Spatial Labs made headlines for selling Sandu-designed Gen One Hardwear clothing equipped with a microchip called LNQ (pronounced link) that revealed the item’s origin and ownership history to buyers, which could be seen, naturally, on the blockchain.
Tapping the LNQ chip with a phone enabled online and offline activities, such as virtual concerts, in a manner similar to scanning a QR code. Spatial Labs introduced its online marketplace last year. It also provided microchips to entrepreneurs who wanted to create and market their own unique embedded devices. Rather than, instance, signing someone up for an email list, the chip enables marketers to embed loyalty programmes directly into their goods. Simply placing a smartphone near a chip sewn into a branded product unlocks exclusive discounts and other perks for the buyer.
In the past, “nutritional information were not accessible on goods,” so people “were simply ingesting everything,” Sandu added. We want to provide and develop a new ecosystem for nutritional information on the things you use in and around your house, including those you put on your body.
Sandu, now 25, is one of the youngest Black men to raise a double-digit seed round, and he did it all on his own. His membership in this exclusive group is already noteworthy. According to Crunchbase, barely 1% of VC funding went to Black founders in 2016; of the $21.5 billion received by web3 businesses worldwide in 2016, $60 million went to U.S.-based Black web3 entrepreneurs, among them Sandu.
It took him around six months, he added, to close his round. When asked how it was to get money during a crypto winter, he said that, owing to chronic financing discrimination, there is no difference between a bear and a bull market for Black entrepreneurs. Being a Black entrepreneur, he continued, “is always crypto winter.” Despite the difficulties, the benefits justify the effort.
Spatial Labs will use the newly raised funds to broaden the use of its blockchain-enabled technologies outside the healthcare sector. At the end of the year, the company also expects to release a tool called Node, which will shorten the time required to create and roll out augmented reality applications. Further, “we’re also looking about decreasing the barrier of entry into web3 and augmented reality utilising our chip technology,” Sandu said.
Sandu has progressed much from his early stages. He was born in Accra, Ghana, but he and his family migrated to Los Angeles when he was just three years old. His dream of becoming an entrepreneur was sparked by the introduction of the iPhone, so he spent a lot of time in libraries in Compton and Harbor City when his family relocated.
He started with Google while still in high school and developed his own applications. Former President Barack Obama honoured him for his contributions to STEM fields; he turned down admission to MIT to focus on developing technology instead; he advised Twitter, Snapchat, and Rihanna; he developed software for Uber; and he collaborated with the late Nipsey Hussle to open the first smart retail store.
At the same time, he understood that he and other Black youngsters were suffering from an information vacuum since even the texts they were using in school in Compton were out of date.
According to Sandu, “the simplest method to keep people out of space is to create separatism as it pertains to knowledge.” He recognises that he is fortunate to have figured out how to navigate ambiguity at an early age, but he stresses that this shouldn’t be the norm. He plans to concentrate on technological and hardware advancements in the next year as he prepares to create a personal fund to aid people of colour.
However, he is now busy constructing Spatial Labs in the meanwhile. He hopes it will be one of the fastest-growing unicorns, and he hopes to inspire the next generation of innovators by making things that, well, change the world.
For him, “legacy” is measured less by the quantity of goods sold than by the number of lives changed.
Sandu explained, “It’s the purpose that I believe I’ve been put here to perform.” To create openings, maintain them for as long as feasible, and eliminate the need for them altogether. No one can act as a gatekeeper if there is no entrance.
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