HTC-backed Highstreet raises $5M for its commerce-centred metaverse

The company hopes to build a fully sustainable Defi marketplace where players can shop together and experience the future of retail on blockchain.

Highstreet, a commerce-centred metaverse with a decentralized finance marketplace for limited-edition products, has raised $5 million in funding.

The funding round was led by Mechanism Capital, NGC Ventures, Palm Drive Capital, Cherubic Ventures, Jump Trading, GBV, Panony and Shima Capital. In addition, non-traditional investors included Encrypt Club, Mr. Blockand Miss Bitcoin.

Founded in 2015 by Travis Wu and Jenny Guo, Highstreet is a commerce-centric metaverse accessible on browsers and native PC VR. The company is trying to bridge the gap between reality and the digital world and redefine how financial products should be consumed and sold. Highstreet users can form groups to explore worlds on Highstreet’s interface, own and expand virtual estates and buy tokenized products from their favourite brands.

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Highstreet said it would use the funds to expand its Unity-focused engineering team working on tech to enable retail on a blockchain. In addition, the company’s product roadmap includes mobile and browser apps to provide mobile users access to their metaverse from anywhere.

"Highstreet is excited to have a diverse group of investors. Many believed e-commerce was the dusk of extravagant brand activations and storefronts. However, the excitement of shopping lives on in the metaverse,” said Travis Wu, CEO of Highstreet, in a statement. “In a virtual world, brand expression is limitless. The ultimate retail experience will debut soon on Highstreet.”

The company has around 40 employees based in Canada and around the world, with nearly 15 based in Vancouver. Wu said he hopes to move his Canadian East coast employees to the West but hasn’t been able to due to COVID. “Since we work a lot with Asia it's best to be on the West coast,” he said.

Highstreet’s world consists of explorable islands, with residential areas and various phygital products (digital assets pegged to real-world products) sold as nonfungible tokens. A key feature is Highstreet Market at the center of Highstreet City, which is a marketplace for redeemable limited-edition products, with every item having a physical equivalent.

Highstreet Market's StreetSmart bonding curves ensure liquidity for the buyer at all times by using a smart contract vault. By tokenizing each individual product into ERC-20 tokens, Highstreet Market eliminates logistical overhead for alternative asset traders, ensuring that the real product comes directly from the merchant every time and only true collectors have to handle it. With the help of companies such as HTC, Highstreet allows users and their friends to buy actual products through digital means, as well as shop and earn together.

"The fact that NFTs and the metaverse are the keys to the Fourth Industrial Revolution is now being taken for granted. There are many projects that combine the metaverse and NFTs but none have been as serious as Highstreet,” according to Mai Fujimoto, also known as Miss Bitcoin. “NFTs and the metaverse are elements complementing each other and we believe that Highstreet, which fuses both, will set a new standard.”

"Highstreet is building the first metaverse that combines virtual reality and crypto, allowing brands to interact with users in an innovative way. We are excited to join this experiment with Highstreet," said Matt Cheng, founder of Cherubic Ventures.

Highstreet has two subsidiaries, Sundance-backed LumiereVR Studio and Retinad Analytics.

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