- Gordian Braun, the founder of Onetool, a startup backed by Y Combinator, is selling it as an NFT.
- The SaaS-management startup is up for sale on OpenSea, with a minimum bid set at more than $96,000.
- Braun told Insider the sale was a way to “embrace failing” and recoup some money for his investors.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Some startup founders choose to wind down their businesses by selling the assets to another company. Gordian Braun chose a different approach.
He’s selling his Y Combinator-backed company, Onetool, as an NFT on OpenSea.
The winning bidder will receive a certificate commemorating the sale as “the first startup ever sold as an NFT,” the sale page says. The purchase includes the company’s source code and domain name, as well as a copy of its application and video pitch for Y Combinator.
Braun said he hoped the listing would help him recoup at least some of the $1.7 million in funding the company received. The minimum bid is pretty steep, at 50 wETH — wrapped ether, a type of cryptocurrency — or more than $96,000. So far, the listing, which went up earlier this week, hasn’t gotten any bids.
But it’s not completely about the money, Braun told Insider. “It’s a great option to embrace failing,” he said.
Braun, who’s from Germany, founded Onetool in 2019 in Berlin as a service for companies to manage their software-as-a-service apps, both free and paid versions, all in one place.
The first few months looked auspicious for Onetool. Braun and his cofounder got accepted into Y Combinator and joined its winter 2020 batch. It soon took in hundreds of inbound inquiries from prospective customers each month through word-of-mouth and online advertising.
But building out the service required notching agreements with dozens of SaaS companies to integrate their services — and coming up with workarounds for those services it hadn’t partnered with yet. The resulting maintenance left Braun and his team quickly burning through the $1.7 million in funding they had raised.
Soon enough, Braun realized he needed to pull the plug. “We had market fit but no product fit,” he told Insider.
Braun told Insider that he explored a traditional sale of Onetool but that because he and his team were ready to walk away from the company rather than stay on as so-called acqui-hires, the bids he received were fairly low.
So he and his teammates brainstormed taking the company in a different direction. Blockchain and nonfungible tokens — two of this year’s buzziest startup categories — came up as discussion topics.
“I am not a crazy crypto or blockchain guy,” Braun said. “But what does blockchain and NFT mean in the real world? It’s great for everything intangible.”
Rather than pivot to an area in which he had little experience, however, he decided to use an NFT as a means to wind down the company. The company’s investors, he said, were a bit bemused by the idea but gave him the green light.
Braun said he was selling the assets strictly as art rather than as a functioning business, since there won’t be a due-diligence process before the sale.
But if the winning bidder ends up resurrecting the company, “I’d be more than happy for that bidder if it becomes a success,” he told Insider.