Startup uShark, Crypto Crowdfunding, Allocates $4.3 Million to Startups
Created by Brazilian Geraldo Marques, the platform connects startups and investors through the sale of cryptoassets backed by equity interest; first pool of investors invested BRL 22 million in 10 companies
THE uShark wants to take advantage of the interest of small investors in disruptive technologies to grow. Created by Brazilian Geraldo Marques just a year ago, the startup connects investors — whether individuals or companies, such as funds — to small businesses through the sale of crypto assets.
Far from being a venture capital fund, uShark is not responsible for intermediating large checks to startups, but rather creating a digital environment where promising companies can “apply” for investments by a considerable number of investors, willing to place smaller amounts, albeit in greater numbers.
The idea for the business came after Marques studied at the Harvard Business School. In a course involving aspiring entrepreneurs with promising business ideas, the proposal to create a business that anticipated the crypto boom already seen abroad in Brazil caught the attention of professors.
“The great incentive for creating the company came from a professor, who said that we would be very successful if we took the idea forward”, says Marques. “Having that opinion come from such an experienced mentor was a huge boost.”
The idea got off the ground after the support of the Harvard Angels, with mentoring from those involved in the organization of angel investors in the startup’s business model. In February 2022, with BRL 1.5 million from the partners and after all the regulatory approvals, the platform started to operate.
What does the business
Currently, uShark works as a startup investment platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors through the sale of crypto assets. The idea is that small companies can negotiate their shares to a large number of investors, in a model similar to that of equity crowdfunding. The difference, however, is in the trading of cryptoassets backed by the equity of these companies, an owner of uShark.
Behind the composition of the portfolio of invested companies is a curatorship made by seven specialists in the market, called uShark Angels there. As mentors, these specialists are part of institutions such as Harvard Angels Chicago, Oxford, Stanford, Cubo Itaú and Sebrae for Startups.
To pass the expert’s scrutiny, according to Marques, companies must have gone through or be participating in an acceleration process in renowned hubs and accelerators.
After this process, they undergo a voting process by an investment committee of the uShark private equity fund. If they obtain 50% +1 of the favorable votes of the investors holding the tokens, the startups are publicly listed on the UShark platform, which today has a base of 26,000 investors from 59 countries.
the business results
Less than a year after debuting on the market, the uShark token, currently listed on 3 global exchanges, has already been resold to over 26,000 investors. In all, the company has already raised US$ 14.5 million, something like R$ 76.5 million.
Of this total, uShark has already allocated US$ 4.3 million (about R$ 22.3 million) to 10 startups, six of which are Brazilian.
The participation of Brazilian startups in the first wave of investments is justified by the current moment of devaluation of the real and the relationship of these companies with “crisis-proof” sectors, such as agribusiness — all startups in Brazil are agtechs, biotechs or develop technology of AI and IoT for agriculture. “The devalued exchange rate facilitated the selection of Brazilian startups, because investors were able to allocate more capital, for less.”, he says. “Besides, we ended up taking advantage of the crisis. The timing was perfect.”
The companies will receive their respective amounts invested in dollars and the total of each one will be distributed over six months, from the proof of application of the resources in the business.
The main reason for the success of the uShark business is linked to the fact that, unlike tokens and cryptoassets without backing or assets, the uShark platform clearly meets this demand. The funds raised from the sale of tokens are already being invested in a diverse and global portfolio of startups from renowned partner Hubs and Accelerators, both in Brazil and in other countries, such as: USA, Israel, Canada and United Arab Emirates.
According to Marques, uShark’s success is based on the direct connection between the value of these startups and tokens.
For him, many investors, so far, have decided to keep a certain distance from the crypto theme because they are unable to see the concrete value from these transactions involving a universe of more than 22,000 existing currencies. UShark goes against this rationale. “We went against the grain, with courage and with a model that still didn’t exist in the market”, he says. “Value is the equity of a rising startup. The benefit is clear”.
With its feet on the ground, uShark intends to multiply by five its total investments in the next year. “The FTX scandal rocked the crypto market. So our targets depend on how long the market will take to recover from this downturn. But our goal for the next five years is to have 1,000 invested startups,” he says.
At this first moment, uShark allocated BRL 22.35 million in 10 startups. Are they:
- DataSynthesis (USA) – big data startup born in the center-east of Brazil, today Americana, has Big Data, Data Analytics, AI and Machine Learning technologies for decision making;
- paygiliant (Israel) – cybersecurity startup with fintech fraud prevention solution designed to protect banks, eWallets, Crypto and more;
- Sling Insurance (Israel) – Cybersecurity startup that proposes continuous and intelligent cyber insurance that automatically monitors the Darknet and the attack surface in search of risks and threats;
- wisdom (Israel) – AI startup that developed AI technology to create “smart parking lots”, offering automatic parking management in real time;
- Agholmes (Brazil) – Agholmes is a platform that uses AI to perform accounting audits and identify errors in financial statements x ancillary obligations and tax information;
- Cyklope (Brazil) – Startup that uses AI for resistance management, that is, the use of pesticides in the exact measure to reduce pests. Precision agriculture, uses imagery and heat maps;
- Kalliandra (Brazil) – Brazilian startup, has irrigation management technology with data via IoT. With a focus on irrigated agriculture, it has a series of equipment for monitoring irrigation;
- agrimapp (Brazil) – It is a logistical support application for rural routes, an objective and practical tool that can be used by different audiences, from managers to drivers;
- Agro Insight (Brazil) – Education and curatorship so that Agribusiness professionals can find quality digital content in one place;
- Fire Limit (Brazil) – Solution designed to combat, block and extinguish large-scale forest and agricultural fires. Compared to water, it is 5 times more effective in fighting fire and 100% biodegradable.