Athleisure icon Ty Haney raises $9.8 million in new funding for his blockchain rewards startup – TechCrunch
Outdoor Voices founder Ty Haney has made a name for herself making activewear the hottest trend among non-athletes. Now, the 33-year-old entrepreneur is betting she can bring together another underrated duo – consumer brands and crypto.
Haney joined TechCrunch Chain Reaction Podcast this week to talk about his latest adventure, Try Your Best (TYB). The startup uses blockchain technology to help brands build customer loyalty without having to rely on buying expensive ads on third-party social media platforms, Haney explained.
Brands use TYB, which is built on the Avalanche blockchain, to create their own on-chain communities of loyal customers, Haney said. Through TYB, these brands can reward their customers for participating in the community with virtual coins, similar to loyalty points, which they can redeem for physical products.
“We allow brands to create an owned community channel, where they pull any number of people from their existing audience into that channel,” Haney said. In contrast, when brands use platforms like Instagram to build communities, they don’t own the relationships with their customers and can be severely impacted by ad pricing and UI changes in the future. platform scale.
On the Chain Reaction podcast, Haney first announced that his new venture was about to close its second round of institutional funding. Since we taped the episode, TYB has closed the $9.8 million round with new investors Unusual Ventures and Sogal Ventures leading the funding alongside existing investor Castle Island, a doorman tells us. -word of the company.
Haney, who left Outdoor Voices in 2020 amid growing losses and internal disagreements with the company’s chairman of the board, first launched TYB in pilot mode last spring. TYB came out of the gates with $2 million in blockchain-focused funding from Castle Island, a relatively small sum compared to the $60 million-plus in venture capital dollars that Outdoor Voices has raised since its inception in 2014. Haney has since commented on some of the lessons she learned from running Outdoor Voices in the past, saying the company grew too quickly and raised funds too quickly.
With TYB, Haney hopes to apply some of those lessons to building a new business that leverages his experience building strong customer relationships. The platform has already debuted a sold-out NFT drop for one of its partners, Joggy, a wellness brand launched by Haney herself that sells CBD-infused wellness products. . Each Joggy collectible has sold between $250 and 500 founding customers in total, Haney said. Those 500 customers will have access to 5% of Joggy’s revenue as it grows and eventually receive free product and friend and family discounts, Haney said.
Haney designed these benefits with a key element in mind that she said she gleaned during her time running Outdoor Voices. “From a brand building perspective, community really works,” Haney explained, but she added that most consumer companies don’t have the right toolkit to get the most out of their community. At Outdoor Voices, managing thousands of customer relationships across a fragmented set of channels, including Slack, SurveyMonkey, and Google Docs, made community strength difficult to measure and made it difficult to collect customer feedback, a- she declared.
The second big idea she brings to her new startup is that traditional customer acquisition channels for consumer brands are too expensive and ultimately “don’t bring in valuable customers.” Outdoor Voices recognized four times more value from customers it brought through interactive and experiential strategies such as local events compared to online advertising, Haney added.
“[Outdoor Voices] would spend 30% to 40% of our raised dollars directly on the big [social media] platforms. I think it makes a lot more sense to take, say, 5% of that and distribute it directly to people who are going to continue to spend money on your brand,” Haney said. She learned that involving customers in the product development process and letting them choose colorways and prints for the brand’s new designs often resulted in high-converting collection drops and led to her styles sticking the most. most popular, including the iconic exercise dress.
Community channels for each brand that TYB works with will be exclusively available to customers who own those brands’ NFT collectibles, Haney explained. Once customers are part of the community, they can earn loyalty points that work differently based on each brand’s preferences, like Joggy’s revenue-based rewards program. TYB has also created a game-for-earning mechanic called “representation card” where a brand can set a specific mission or goal for their customers to increase engagement and can reward them based on their progress towards that goal. — for example, an athletic-wear brand working with TYB could reward customers for exercising seven days in a row, she said.
For now, Haney said TYB’s main goal is to provide experiential features to its NFT collectibles holders rather than expecting assets to increase in value based on recognition alone. of the brand.
“We don’t optimize for the flip or aftermarket of a collectible. We really focus on brands introducing collectibles that serve a purpose. And so I intentionally use the word collectible, because I know NFTs kind of have a baggage, and we need to reintroduce what this technology can do that people will be more willing to adopt,” Haney said.
TYB is working with more than 30 brands in its pilot program, Haney said, including Hill House Home, creator of the viral “nap dress” and jewelry company Vada. She added that the company has about 300 potential customers in its pipeline, which is not limited to just companies with a DTC model.
“There are definitely companies that already have a very enthusiastic and engaged fanbase, and we’re starting there,” Haney said, noting that she wants early launches to have demonstrable success.
Unsurprisingly, Haney is aiming for more ambitious long-term goals for TYB.
“I’m very passionate about bringing this younger, especially younger, female audience into the Web3 space because of the potential for real financial benefit,” Haney said. “And for me, there’s no better way to do that than through the brands they love.”