Celo Co-founder Among Trio Aiming for $100M ReFi Raise

Blockworks exclusive: The launch is led by the president of the Celo Foundation and two other prominent industry players


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A trio of cryptocurrency industry heavyweights are rolling out a new firm designed to derive alpha from the “regenerative finance revolution,” according to two sources familiar with the matter and marketing materials obtained by Blockworks.

Two top executives — one current, one former — for the Celo blockchain’s Celo Foundation are behind the effort, as well as the founder and managing partner of Unicorn Growth Capital, a Web3-focused venture capital firm keying in on early stage opportunities in the sector. 

Rene Reinsberg, the co-founder of the Celo protocol and president of the Celo Foundation, is a founding member of the launch, Verda Ventures. Reinsberg is joined by Alex Witt, the foundation’s former chief financial officer who left in December to kickstart Verda.

Unicorn growth head Barbara Iyayi rounds out the founding team. Sources said the firm may look to hire down the line, contingent with asset under management growth.

Verda and the Celo Foundation declined to comment. 

The venture launch is designed to capitalize on a number of factors driving regenerative finance, also known as ReFi in crypto circles, which generally aims to incentivize crypto-powered solutions to major worldly problems.

Prospective limited partners have been told there’s a big opportunity at play. That’s especially true, in Verda’s estimation, given industry projections around the trajectory of digital asset products like tokenized carbon credits, as well as the industry’s potential to tackle a long time problem set facing unbanked individuals. 

The founding team, one source said, has touted its deep digital asset credentials to potential investors as one capital-raising carrot. Verda is trying to raise $100 million. The launch’s timing period for doing so appears to be a moving target, likely, at least in part, informed by the volatility that has plagued crypto since the fourth quarter. 

It’s imposing steep fees, given the state of digital asset markets, one source said: a 2% management cut and 20% in profits, subject to Verda’s lockup restrictions.

The startup has already deployed proprietary capital, both sources said, and is now looking to ramp up its fundraising efforts. Its initial investment strategy — which may still be in formation — was to take on a concentrated approach, focusing on about 10 ReFi positions at a time. It was set to be split between roughly 40% liquid tokens and 60% growth-focused venture plays. 

Areas of focus include investment opportunities within the stablecoin-friendly Celo universe, as well as projects tied to the Polygon blockchain. In marketing materials shipped to institutional investors, the firm touted its “top tier” relationships with venture funds including Andreessen Horowitz, Dragonfly Capital, Electric Capital, Polychain Capital and Paradigm.

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