Dragon’s Den tycoon who dropped out of university has raised $24 million (£20 million) in funding for a new blockchain business in a deal which values the company at £136 million.
29-year-old Steven Bartlett launched the tech firm, called thirdweb, alongside co-founder Furqan Rydhan after deciding there wasn’t enough digital infrastructure to help start-ups build their own blockchain technology platforms.
Bartlett told the Standard: “Before thirdweb if you’re a developer you have to learn a new coding language and it could take you a year or two years to build an application. Using third web you can build an application in a few clicks.
“When there’s a gold rush you have people that are searching for the gold or you have people that are making the shovels.”
The funding round was led by Haun Ventures and includes commitments from e-commerce platform Shopify and crypto firm Coinbase Ventures. Major investors in the company’s earlier seed funding round include serial entrepreneurs Gary Vaynerchuck and Mark Cuban. Cuban is one of the top 600 richest people in the world with a wealth of £3.9 billion, according to Forbes.
“I think it’s fair to say both myself and Furqan as founders having the track record we have, we could have funded thirdweb ourselves, but the strategic support that we’re getting now from these partners is even more important to us than the capital itself,” Bartlett said.
Blockchain technology and the crypto firms which operate on it have attracted controversy in recent months, with a record £1.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency stolen in hacks of services in the year to July 2022, according to blockchain platform Chainalysis, as organised online criminals and nefarious state actors exploit vulnerabilities in decentralised finance. Bartlett was not put off by those reports.
“The fundamental blockchain technology is incredibly secure. I think in web1, web2 or web3 there’s always going to be vulnerabilities to systems and technologies and I think that web3 as a technology actually solves tons of the security issues,” he said.
Bartlett rose to fame after joining BBC show Dragon’s Den in January as the show’s youngest Dragon. The entrepreneur has attracted thousands of listeners to his “Diary of a CEO” podcast, in which he interviewed the likes of former health secretary Matt Hancock and the billionaire founder of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong.
“If Dragon’s has taught me anything it’s that people invest in people and so I always bear that in mind whenever I’m raising funds for my own companies,” he said.
Bartlett first achieved major business success with his social media company Social Chain, which he co-founded in 2014. The company merged with German business Lumaland before listing on the German stock exchange in 2019, valuing the company at over $200 million.