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Focusing on the sports and entertainment market has served Atlanta-based blockchain startup GigLabs well.
It has partnerships with CNN, the Atlanta Hawks and Turner Sports to power their Non-Fungible-Tokens projects. An NFT is a digital asset bought and sold online, often with cryptocurrency, that depict illustrations, music, in-game items and videos. Those markets were natural fits for the startup because NFTs were a way to engage and reward those companies’ fans and audiences.
“We look at the digital marketing space as an addressable market of roughly $700 billion in annual spending,” said GigLabs co-founder Douglas Dimola. “We see a shift of those dollars over time into Web3 using NFTs as that vehicle to deliver those experiences and that shared value with their customers.”
Now, the company is eyeing an opportunity to extend its customer base to the travel and credit card industries that can offer NFTs as reward benefits. The move comes as the startup is in the process of closing an $8 million Series A round, said Dimola, which it will use to expand its engineering, marketing and sales teams. 
This year, American Airlines Group Inc. used GigLabs’ software for a project under its ConciergeKey customer reward program to provide members with NFTs. The company is also in talks with credit card companies about ideas for NFT reward programs, Dimola said but declined to identify the companies.
By working in these new industries, GigLabs would tokenize the benefits of their rewards or loyalty programs. Customers could attain an NFT benefit to either use or trade, helping the brand retain regular customers while giving the customer an economic benefit.
“Loyalty is a two-way street between the company and the customer, and NFTs are going to thread that needle,” said co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of GigLabs Jon Parise. “The idea of ownership matters and when you have NFTs, you own that experience and it won’t be a one-sided rewards program.”
GigLabs has 36 enterprise customers to date and intends to grow that number into the hundreds within 18 months. Its hiring expansion will increase its capacity for customers and ability to reach. So far, marketing has been word-of-mouth.
Founded in 2017, GigLabs integrates its software for brands to enable their NFT transactions. It also helps showcase NFT art pieces with 3D digital galleries. The company has grown its staff from 22 to 31 since October 2021, when it raised $4.5 million.
Earlier this year, the company laid off four employees. Three of those positions were consolidated into one senior-level engineer role while the other was terminated entirely. The decision was a result of realizing those roles were excessive for its growth and not a result of financial strain, said Dimola.
GigLabs will identify opportunities for acquisitions in the coming years, said Dimola, as they expect some Web3 companies to fail or not make it through the potential recessionary climate.
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