On crypto startup ideas for 2024

4 minute(s)

Quick look-back at the 2023 list

Verticalized wallets: not sure I saw this to the extent I'd hoped. The B2B space picked up a little, but nothing too interesting that completely challenges the standard wallet paradigm. Some players I was tracking have shuttered, and others pivoted away - I'd consider it a miss.

Block explorers 2.0: definitely saw an explosion here. Power-user options like OnceUpon and Routescan, user-friendly options like Dora, Lore, and Cymbal all saw meaningful traction through 2023. I'd consider this a hit.

Non-financialized consumer apps: there was meaningful movement on this in some categories I didn't call out (eg. Warpcast, social) but not so much in the categories I did call out (messaging, gaming). 2024 is poised to be a big year for gaming with the upcoming launch of a number of major gaming networks (Immutable, Xai, Treasure) and ideally games themselves as well. I'd say “too soon” which is also a miss.

2024 opportunity spaces

Category #1: Namespace challengers

ENS has established itself as THE namespace for crypto, with .eth names permeating most wallets, block explorers, and even having a dedicated marketplace. However, I think ENS is potentially too skeuomorphic to the web2 namespace:

  • Expiry and renewals model
  • Multiple purchases/names per individual human user
  • A "pointer", not an identifier

A combination of these factors has recreated the squatting and speculation dynamics seen in web2 namespace, and I think that's a problem worth solving. Doing so without compromising the revenue opportunity (especially if giving up the renewal model) and/or introducing an entirely new host of problems is very hard. However, given the size of the prize (ENS earned ~19M USD in revenue in calendar 2023 and were doing multiples of that the years prior), it's a competition worth entering into and I'd love to see more people try.

Many have tried (eg. UD, Nametag) to mixed success, all facing a mix of mindshare, monetization, and network-effect challenges. I think there's a few (somewhat unexplored) specific design surfaces that are worth digging deeper into:

  • Higher-utility (eg. native link-in-bio, IYK-integrated cards)
  • Omnipresence (ie. work natively across networks)

I get the feeling the utility-focused area might be a "too early" bet, but there's definitely a need for omnichain namespaces.

Category #2: Chain abstraction tooling

2023 saw an explosion of L2s, and I'm sure this will continue into 2024 - if not L3s, L4s, L5s [...] L420. With RaaS players coming to market late last year, it'll soon be just as easy to launch a rollup or appchain as it is to deploy an ERC20, 721, or 1155. In this future, we'll need new solutions to abstract away multi-chain actions both for developers and for end users.

Two specific opportunity areas:

  • Cross-chain gas relayers/bridges (ie. allowing users to transact on any EVM chain with no regard to which network their underlying liquidity is held on)
  • Invisibility tooling such as Privy that abstracts away the fact that there's a blockchain involved at all; I'm convinced 2024 is the year we see a massive consumer app where the majority of users don't even know about web3)

Category #3: Smarter points

This might not be an "opportunity area" in the same way as #1 and #2 but I think is worth calling out. Many look to Blur as a case on how to use incentives / points systems to dominate a category, but don't give Blur enough credit: they built a vastly superior, 10x experience for a key persona and then kept innovating from there. I'm an NFT trading normie

I think the vast majority of today's points systems (chains, protocols, apps) are very poorly designed: they only appear successful for as long as the points keep being printed and market optimism continues, and most sybil and anti-bot systems are trivial to bypass. And while that means many of today's growing projects are going to deeply struggle to retain and grow their userbases over the long-term and build truly enduring applications, it also presents a few opportunities:

  • To help them (via advanced analytics, reputation systems, etc. OpenRank is a good recently example of this)
  • To do it better (ie. anywhere there is a rapidly growing protocol with a not-great product and a simplistic, easy-to-game points system, there's an opportunity to make a better v2 and wait for the inevitable exodus of users and activities - or attack it head on)

I've tried to stay away specifically from the common, consensus bets (parallelized EVMs, restaking) and be at least a bit more unique and specific. If you're building in any of these categories, would love to hear about it!

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