Investment app Otis has raised $11 million in a Series A funding round led by Maveron, the venture capital firm that invested in companies such as eBay, Zulily and Allbirds, among others. Additional investors include Union Square Ventures, NextView Ventures, Kindred Ventures, and Will Smith’s investment fund Dreamers.
Founded by Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Otis is a platform for users to buy and sell shares of artworks, sneakers, handbags, watches and skate decks. The platform launched with a painting by Kehinde Wiley and added artworks by Kaws, Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh, Nike Air Mag sneakers, a Hermès Birkin bag, Rolex Daytona 6265 Big Red from 1978, and Supreme skate decks featuring works by Kaws, Murakami, George Condo, Jeff Koons, Marilyn Minter and Cindy Sherman. All of the works available are on view at the company’s physical location in the East Village in New York.
Karnjanaprakorn said the investment will be used to expand its art and product drops on the Otis app.
“I was seeing the changes in art and commerce through the lens of social media. These artists command huge audiences that allow artists to have a direct relationship with their fans, and an audience that far outpaces any sort of art gallery,” said Natalie Dillon of Maveron. “That market has really taken off.”
Dillon added that Karnjanaprakorn has great insight on product, design and culture, which is “this new asset class,” she said.
“Tangible products being seen as a real investment, that’s a trend in itself showcased in sneaker culture, that familiarity makes investing in a share of something easier to grasp,” she added. “The demand side and interest from Millennials in art is the highest it’s ever been. They’re not being spoken to in a modern way that really resonates with them. That’s where Otis comes in.”
The investment from Maveron comes days before Otis will drop collections with Jeff Staple and street artist Fnnch. Staple curated a bundle of his favorite Nike SB Dunks sneakers called the Nike SB Dunks Collection to be sold on the app. The five sneakers – the NYC Pigeon, Heineken, What the Dunk, Raygun and Bison – will be available as a bundle for $25 a share and only 1,000 shares will be available.
In addition, the selection will be on view in the exhibit, Sneakers as Art, at the Otis East Village location from Dec. 13 through Dec. 18.
The Fnnch drop will include the San Francisco-based street artist and fine artist’s works, Greatest Hits, LaCroix, and Sneakers. Like the Nike SB Dunks Collection, Fnnch’s works will be a bundle for $40 a share, and 1,000 shares will be available.