Inside Australia’s intimate crypto
Now, intimate’s Coppa is seeking to raise up to $US2.3 million in equity to fund the company’s next stage. As the crypto world recalibrates and sorts the successes from the failures, there are plenty of companies like intimate, stuck somewhere in between. KTM Ventures Innovation Fund’s Martin Rogers, an […]
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Now, intimate's Coppa is seeking to raise up to $US2.3 million in equity to fund the company's next stage.
As the crypto world recalibrates and sorts the successes from the failures, there are plenty of companies like intimate, stuck somewhere in between.
KTM Ventures Innovation Fund's Martin Rogers, an investor in cryptocurrency exchange Independent Reserve, says the crypto boom and bust is similar to the tech wreck, and the system will throw up some big winners.
“The technology behind crypto is not a fad, or a bubble, or a Ponzi scheme; it’s a fundamental paradigm shift. The hard part is which ones are going to work...and it has a lot to do with human networking behaviour," he says.
Intimate crashed onto the scene with a bang in late 2017.
Within months of beginning to sell tokens, intimate’s chief marketing officer Leah Callon-Butler was sending e-mails updating friends and family.
From the poolside at West Hollywood's W Hotel, Callon-Butler sent a long email titled “WTF are you doing LEAH?!” which included photos of her flying first class to London; stretched out in front of a life-size conference logo and a group shot of the intimate team in branded black t-shirts.
"The momentum we are building has absolutely blown my mind. Let me repeat: BLOWN MY MIND. BLOWN MY FREAKING MIND. Seriously, and what’s crazy is that this is only the beginning.”
Intimate was banned from exhibiting at one of world’s biggest tech conferences Web Summit because it breached their anti-harassment policy, the company said, and successfully turned into a platform to lobby for the rights of sex industry workers.
But despite the ban, Callon-Butler wrote that she "networked up a storm".
Bumping into Joe Lubin, the co-founder of Ethereum, was a "massive highlight," she said, adding he said he could see intimate being worth $US1 billion. “And he would know...today, he is worth $US2.13B”.
From LA, she was off to meetings and conferences in New York, then Chicago and San Francisco before back to London for the porn publisher Paul Raymond Publications Christmas party, which intimate was sponsoring.
“The space was a bit crazy, you have to jump on board a little bit if you want to capitalise on it...the reality of it was you have to get around and really sell yourself, you had to do that to get your funds,” Coppa says.
At its peak, intimate was burning through between $US130,000 and $US150,000 a month, sponsoring conferences and adding staff and advisory board members.
Over 18 months, Coppa estimates he travelled 300,000km, almost three quarters of the average distance from the earth to the moon, or the distance light travels in one second. He says it wasn't first class.
The company’s travel spend to date has been $US316,000, but its largest expense was marketing, which cost $US576,000, followed by “core team” at $US332,000.
And then, says Coppa, the spending, travel and hard work looked like it was starting to pay off.
Crypto-fund Alphabit invested $US1.1 million after a phone call and an introduction from crypto investor Michael Terpin, Coppa says. Alphabit and its chief executive officer Liam Robertson together purchased 990 ethereum of ITM on February 15 when ETH/USD was about $US900, he says.
Alphabit and Terpin did not respond to emails and intimate is not listed as a Alphabit investment on the firm’s website.
“After you get a phone call with someone giving you a million bucks you think the next one is around the corner,” Coppa says.
But it wasn’t. And like many other crypto and blockchain start-ups that raised money around the same time, even listing the crypto-currency proved problematic and time consuming.
No listing meant investors who had participated in the token offering weren’t able to sell their holding, or had they wanted to, buy more.
Intimate sold 16 million tokens for 8,767 ethereum across the seed, pre-sale and public sale. ETH/USD was $300 when the sale begun, $US1100 in January just before Alphabit came on board and $US700 during the public sale. Another 17 million or so were issued to people associated with the company.
Finally, in late June this year, intimate listed on Bittrex, a US-based block chain trading platform.
Some $US150,000 worth of ITM tokens have been traded since listing. It's not yet ranked in the top 100 crypto-currencies, according to coinmarketcap.
Coppa says expectations have come back down to earth with a thud, as he sets out on an equity fund raising for the company.
Callon-Butler left the group in May after not being able to negotiate an equity stake, she says, adding she is "incredibly proud" of building the intimate brand.
"We started off with a brand that no-one knew, and over a relatively short period of time built a brand that was globally renowned," she says, noting that she took the co-founder title after joining.
So where next for intimate, which is adapting to the new less-is-more crypto environment?
Costs are down to $US20,000 a month – a fraction of the $US150,000 it was spending at its peak. – and the company is far more selective about where it exhibits and sponsors.
“It’s taking longer than we would have thought,” Coppa says of the proposed $US2.3 million convertible preference share fundraising, which values the company $US11.5 million pre-money.
The company is budgeting it will spend $US66,000 in the next two years on travel, and $US313,000 in the next two years on marketing.
But he’s optimistic about the company’s progress, despite the slow crypto listing.
According to the fundraising deck, intimate.io has signed 41 partners, of which 27 are merchants, through its payment gateway. Singapore’s SmileMakers, which designs and makes women’s sex toys, is testing the payments gateway.
Coppa says the slower-than-expected start has allowed the company to refine its model, and notes that there’s only a small group of competitors. These include SpankChain and Gingr.
“We’re not marketing to the crypto crowds anymore, they were great initially. Our drive is now on product innovation,” he says.