The Defiant

a16z Bets On ‘Phygital’ Sector With IYK

NFC Chipmaker IYK Raises $16.8M to Connect Brands With Their Fans, Using Custom Chips To Add Digital Element To Physical Items

By: Owen Fernau

a16z Bets On ‘Phygital’ Sector With IYK

IYK, a company that produces Near Field Communication (NFC) chips to connect smartphones with physical items, has raised $16.8M in a funding round led by venture capital heavyweight a16z crypto.

Brands can embed the company’s chips into a range of products from clothing to liquor bottles as well as use them on a standalone basis. A purchaser can hold their smartphone up to the NFC chip to verify the item’s provenance and access exclusive content, according to the project’s website.

9dcc T-shirt Containing NFC Chip
9dcc T-shirt Containing NFC Chip

The idea is that ownership in the physical world has been difficult to verify online and that connecting the two worlds opens up new opportunities for brands to stay connected with their fans and potentially sell them more products.

IYK has previously worked with adidas, whisky maker Johnnie Walker, and Pudgy Toys. 9dcc, a line of networked products from NFT influencer gmoney, also uses the technology.

Arianna Simpson, a general partner at a16z, emphasized the difficulty that brands have in maintaining a connection with their customers.

“Identifying and staying connected with fans is vital for a brand’s ability to build community,” she said on X. “Unfortunately, bridging the gap between digital and IRL audiences has been a challenge across many industries.”

a16z crypto has been extremely active in September — the firm led or co-led five deals this month, with a combined investment of $103.4M.