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Kiki World, a beauty brand using web3 for customer co-creation and ownership, raises $7M from a16z

If you think choosing your nail polish color or what ingredients go into your face cream has nothing to do with blockchain, think again.

Qiqi worldis a beauty startup founded last year that hopes consumers can co-create products and co-own the company with the help of web3 technology.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles-based Kiki announced it had raised $7 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz Crypto Fund and The Estée Lauder Companies’ New Incubation Ventures, as well as other backers including OrangeDao and 2Punks Capital.

Kiki co-founder Jana Bobosikova said she believes becoming a loyal user of a brand in a Web 2.0 world can be a net negative experience. “You’ve probably seen a lot of creators on TikTok recommending it to you. You’ve probably recommended it to all your friends. What do you get? Just more retargeting ads,” she said.

Kiki is disrupting this model by allowing community members to vote on the features they want in beauty products before they are produced. As a reward, voters can earn points to purchase free products and receive the company’s digital tokens.

“This is a dynamic that the internet and your bathroom haven’t seen yet,” Bobosikova said.

Since it’s not uncommon for cosmetics companies to find themselves with large amounts of unsellable inventory, another benefit of Kiki’s on-demand approach is that it uses less capital and resources.

Although members’ product votes are recorded on Ethereum, Boboskova said some participants don’t need to know they are taking action on the blockchain. Users can log in using their email and voila, Kiki creates an on-chain account that will permanently store members’ votes.

After the startup fulfilled its mission, a16z decided to support Kiki 10-week cryptocurrency startup accelerator program. “Jana is a force of nature. She was one of the things that attracted us most to the firm,” said Ariana Simpson, general partner at the firm. “She has incredible expertise in the beauty space and a unique understanding of web3 that we don’t always see if our founders come from more traditional industries.”

Before founding Kiki, Czech-born Bobosikova served as CEO of Epic Future Labs, a product development and brand innovation agency.

Simpson noted that Kiki isn’t the company’s only bet on companies using blockchain technology to reward customers.Last year, a16z led the way Blackbird Labs raises $24 million in Series A fundingis a hospitality technology company that developed a loyalty program that incentivizes guests to dine at independent restaurants.

Currently, Kiki has launched five product lines, including nail polish pens, and consumers can choose the next color Kiki will produce.

But, as Simpson points out, Kiki plans to eventually expand beyond beauty.

How long does it take to vote on a jeans style or purse size? Maybe it will take a while.

“We faced crazy challenges on the physics side,” Bobiskova said, adding that some products took much longer to make than others. “The power of asking people what they want and giving it to them is very, very simple. It’s just that it’s hard to do.”

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