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Technology

Startup Banks On User Needs

By Emma Dill, posted Sep 15, 2023
Raleon’s seed round was led by investment funds Blockchange with participation from Play Ventures, Alliance DAO and Portal Ventures. (Image c/o Raleon)
Wilmington tech startup Raleon announced last month it had raised $3.8 million in funding during its seed round. 

The Web3 engagement platform has plans to use that capital to drive its growth in Web3 spaces and to fuel an expansion into more traditional Web2 online platforms, according to Raleon CEO and co-founder Nathan Snell. 

“The $3.8 million in fundraising is really to drive additional growth,” Snell said. “The intention is to continue to grow effectively, to be able to put ourselves in a position such that we can continue to step on the gas … if we want to.”

The fundraising from the company’s seed round, which was announced in late August, is just the latest multi-million-dollar capital fundraising effort from a Wilmington-based tech startup this year. In June, Ohanafy, a craft beverage management software, raised $2.8 million in capital. Fintech firm Approve announced a $3 million fundraising series around the same time.

Snell, who was a cofounder of cloud-based banking company nCino, formed Raleon in 2022 with Adam Larson, another former nCino employee. Raleon provides a Web3 engagement platform that helps brands, games and decentralized applications or dApps convert and retain users.

Web3 is a term that refers to the concept of a digitized world that’s decentralized using blockchain technology. Some online users have opted for Web3 because it gives users – not tech companies like Microsoft or Apple – ownership of their data, leading to more data security and privacy. The company’s focus is growing in Web3 spaces, but it also aims to expand within more traditional Web2 spaces in order to serve a broader array of customers.

Raleon’s seed round was led by investment funds Blockchange with participation from Play Ventures, Alliance DAO and Portal Ventures.

In this funding series, the company’s backers were a mix of strategic investors and those who wanted to lead investment in Raleon because of their support for the company’s work and experience, Snell said.
With the funding, company officials also plan to hire more employees and continue to build out its software as a service platform. The platform includes Embedded Quests, a new project that allows decentralized applications to configure unique user quests with no coding required.

“Incentivizing and rewarding user behavior on the internet is the holy grail for many web companies, and indeed a driving ethos of Web3,” according to a news release from the company.

The program allows for “easy targeting of specific users through personalizing tasks backed by Web2 and Web3 data,” along with delineating actions and rewarding users for successful quest completion, according to the release.

This aims to provide a “conversational, chat-like experience” that can help brands build relationships with customers. The company uses both on-chain and off-chain data to “not only understand customers in a deeper way but to deliver highly personalized actions to those users,” the release stated.

Looking to the future, Raleon has plans to expand its product range. 

“We’ve got a newer product area that we haven’t announced yet that we anticipate driving a pretty substantial amount of growth,” Snell said.

He attributes some of Raleon’s fundraising success to Wilmington’s growing tech scene, which includes companies such as nCino, Live Oak Bank and Apiture, among others. 

The company is remote-first, Snell said, but its core team is located in the Wilmington area. Company leaders didn’t face questions from investors about its decision to headquarter in the Wilmington area, which could be a sign of the area’s increasing growth as a tech hub, he said. 

That’s welcome news for Snell who’s watched Wilmington’s tech scene evolve in recent years.  

“Since moving here, it’s been my hope to help create this kind of tech bubble or tech hub area on the coast, kind of like a Silicon Coast, if you will,” Snell said. “So to be able to start another company that’s still in Wilmington, to see other Wilmington startups forming, hopefully we can continue to build a nice vibrant and budding community.”

Last year, a LinkedIn workforce report found Wilmington ranked No. 11 in the U.S. for growth in tech talent between 2019 and 2022. The report found tech workforce grew more than 27% during that period.

In recent years, the city has drawn tech companies from outside of North Carolina, including market research firm Suzy. The area has also witnessed the expansion of cloud-based banking firm Live Oak Bank along with spin-off companies nCino and Apiture. Last fall, Live Oak Bank announced a $25 million expansion in Wilmington with the addition of more than 200 jobs.  
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