Natalia Murillo was an undergraduate at the University of Southern California when a professor taught her about the cryptographic technique of zero-knowledge proofs. She has since immersed herself in Web3 and blockchain tech, dropped out of college, and invested the ~$5,000 she had in NFTs before starting Web3 Company Coop.
After two months in private beta, Koop, founded by 21-year-old CEO Murillo with CTO Connor Cheung, has just gone public. At its core, Koop is a protocol that helps creators and communities launch NFT-based membership passes to raise funds for projects, Murillo told Technology Flow in an interview.
Koops, as they are called, are owned by their members, who vote on how to spend the group’s treasury funds, Murillo said. Coops can be used for anything from starting a venture fund to creating a new clothing brand, but its use cases seem to be primarily geared toward content creators looking to build engaged fan communities.
The platform has already seen $850 million in volume buying and selling NFTs from its 50 active communities’ treasuries, according to Murillo, who said the company has a waitlist of 8,500 groups looking to set up coops. The company says sign-ups on its platform are growing 4x per week. Current Koop users include musicians with memes NFT, The Heart Project, 1Conformation, creatorDAOs, and gaming guilds.
Coop announced today that it is coming out of stealth with $5 million in funding led by Palm Tree Crew, Day One Ventures, Ethereal Ventures, Defy Alliance, Volt Capital, PearVC, 1Confirmation and Web3 creator economy-focused Variant Fund. DCF God, 0xmons and angel investors including crypto influencer Cooper Turley, former Coinbase CTO and a16z investor Balaji Srinivasan and former Sequoia partner Liu Xiang.
Murillo describes Coop as a “socioeconomic network” that contrasts with traditional social networks. It is similar to the Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), a blockchain-based community governance structure popularized during last year’s crypto bull run. But coops have some key differences from DAOs, Murillo said.
“Coop is light-touch, it’s light-weight, and it focuses more on social experiences and less on the nuances of whether each individual member is voting or whether it’s truly decentralized,” Murillo said. For example, creators using Koops can still choose to have single-handed control over their groups’ wallet and implementation decisions, but can use the Koop community as a “temperature check” to help guide their decision-making.
Neither do DAOs have should be decentralized, but the ethics surrounding them focus more on assigning equal voting rights to each group member. Koops, by contrast, are more centralized, smaller in size and offer groups the option of organizing around a short-term goal or triggering and disbanding the coop when it’s achieved, Murillo added.
“We participate in fictional worlds or digital communities with more enthusiasm and passion than our local democracies, so I felt there was a big disconnect in terms of the time and investment that I shared with them,” Murillo says of her motivations behind starting the company.
She shared the example of YouTuber and creator Logan Paul to illustrate the coup’s purpose. Murillo says she’s been a subscriber to Paul’s “impulsive” podcasts for years, but doesn’t feel engaged with the community around the product — “All I do is subscribe. I’m paying taxes to comment and buy a piece of merchandise,” says Murillo.
Paul’s Koop, 99 Originals, provides rights to community members who may not be consumers of his content, she added.
“I’ve got the ability to ask, should we invest? If I have ideas, he supports them, the community supports them. I am the owner of the storytelling, the direction, the goal and any content that hatches from that,” Murillo says of his membership in the 99 Originals coop.
According to Murillo, NFT-based membership passes help each member feel unique, unlike a traditional social network.
“Inside the coupe, you can’t replace. You are truly a unique person in the context of this larger ecosystem, and because you are not only an investor but also an owner, we bring your membership pass or your NFT to life by adding your contributions, your work and your actions, all on-chain,” Murillo said.