Seattle startup serving to teenagers study and put money into crypto raises $2.7M

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The Stack team, from left: CTO Natalie Young; CEO and co-founder Will Rush, and co-founder and head of product Angela Mascarenas. (Stack Photo)

Stack, a Seattle-based startup building a platform that enables teens to invest in and learn about cryptocurrencies, has raised $2.7 million to boost its content production arm.

The funding comes from Madrona Venture Group, The Venture Collective and Santa Clara Ventures, among others.

Stack originally spun out of a Seattle-based fintech incubator, closing a $500,000 pre-seed round at the time from On Deck and Santa Clara Ventures in January. In March, it won $100,000 prize from a Madrona Venture Lab’s Web3 venture competition called Launchable.

Stack is launching iOS and Android apps, with a current wait list of 5,000 people. The company aims to differentiate itself from other crypto trading apps by creating an educational platform alongside its investing infrastructure. This will include a stream of crypto-related content tailored to attract teens away from other content on platforms like TikTok and YouTube.

The area of financial literacy is a growing interest for Gen Z viewers. A study found that at the end of September 2021, the hashtag “FinTok” on TikTok had more than 500 million views, while the hashtags “cryptocurrency” and “investing” had more than 2 billion and 3.7 billion views, respectively.

“There was this zeitgeist and excitement behind crypto,” Stack CEO and co-founder Will Rush told GeekWire. “People were going to hack their way into it.”

Being the de facto source for crypto-related content and competing for views will be a challenge, said Rush, who previously worked on teen banking at Copper and was a venture fellow at Fuse. He is joined by co-founder and head of product Angela Mascarenas, who held a leadership position at J.P. Morgan Chase where she focused on teen banking; and CTO Natalie Young, who started multiple companies and worked as a software engineer at T-Mobile.

(Stack Photo)

Stack will make its money through a $3-per-month subscription. However, users can offset that cost by consuming the content on the platform, which will reward users crypto for watching videos, Rush said.

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“Stack’s business model is thoughtfully designed around education instead of trading incentives,” Madrona wrote in a blog post. “Unlike over-18 crypto exchanges, Stack is monetizing with a subscription, not on a per-trade basis. Users also get bite-sized content served up daily in the app and receive crypto as an incentive to watch.”

Madrona has been betting big on Web3-related startups. On Wednesday, it announced that it was among investors putting $13.5 million into Spice AI. This comes at a time when the industry as a whole has experienced waning interest and a flurry of negative headlines.

Luna, for example, lost $40 billion in a sudden meltdown in May; Novi, Meta’s digital wallet pilot project, shut down in September; and crypto broker Voyager Digital filed for bankruptcy in July. Meanwhile, the prices of Bitcoin and Ethereum are down more than 50% this year.

But Rush said he isn’t too worried. He said that the market will eventually rebound after regulation and centralization is introduced, adding that when this happens, Stack will be well positioned to take advantage of the next bull market. He compared this to Robinhood, which got its start in the aftermath of the financial crisis, then saw a windfall in last year’s market bull run.

Rush said that his previous employer, Copper, along with Step and GreenLight, will be Stack’s biggest competitors. He added that Robinhood and Charles Schwab are also introducing educational products for teenage users. But Stack, he said, will ultimately differentiate itself by being focused solely on crypto products.

“Obviously it’s a unique product in a unique arena to operate in,” he said. “Ultimately, I think it’s what’s going to be our strength and what’s going to carry the day.”

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