IYK, which stands for “if you know,” revealed that it secured $16.8 million in funding to help consumers verify the authenticity of their high-end luxury goods.
The start-up, co-founded by Ryan Ouyang, 22, and Christopher Lee, 34, integrates near-field communication chip (NFC) technology that enables global brands to provide consumers with innovative experiences.
Having first met on Discord in 2021, Ouyang was taking time off from college, while Lee was working as a software developer for Major League Baseball (MLB). Their idea to embed NFC chips into luxury merchandise, while not new, added a full-suite of flexible and accessible options to the conversation, allowing for companies in order to better understand who and under what conditions consumers are buying their products.
Since their initial inception in 2021, IYK has collaborated with big names like adidas, 9dcc, and VÉRITÉ to bridge the gap between brands and their real-world fan base. This was achieved by integrating IYK-powered NFC chips into products, thus creating unique digital experiences and authenticating genuine product ownership.
Notable implementations include:
- adidas’s limited NFT NYC 2023 shirts that offered digital authentication and unique “Alter Ego” assignments.
- 9dcc’s gamification of product ownership, promoting brand growth.
- VÉRITÉ’s Crewnecks granting early music access and exclusive updates to its fans.
- BB3 Labs using the technology to facilitate real-world fan interactions for digital rewards.
Despite IYK’s significant strides, onboarding individual brands and artists had its challenges. To address this, IYK has unveiled the “IYK Platform.” This platform serves as a self-service portal for various entities, allowing them to seamlessly introduce digital experiences into physical products without needing technical expertise.
This self-service portal empowers entities to merge digital experiences with physical products effortlessly. Key offerings include readily available NFC chips, customizable user experiences with potential NFT integrations, and a powerful API for advanced features.
The IYK funding round was led by a16z crypto, the crypto investment arm of Andreessen Horowitz, in addition to gmoney, Collab Currency, Lattice Capital, 1kx, Synergis Capital, Palm Tree Crew, and Coop Records. Both Ouyand and Lee graduated from a16z’s Crypto Startup School earlier this year.
IYK is preparing for its next developmental stage, signaling an interest in partnering with creators. Their objective is to integrate digital and physical experiences more closely, envisioning a future where both domains intersect smoothly.
Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.