Heretic Ventures, the San Francisco-based venture studio launched by serial entrepreneur Mariam Naficy and backed by industry-leading investors and entrepreneurs including Reid Hoffman, Ev Williams, Chris Dixon, Jeremy Stoppelman, April Underwood, and others, announces that Tonic.xyz, a leading gallery offering highly curated art on the blockchain, has raised $5 million in a seed financing round co-led by Patron.xyz and TTCER.
Heretic founds companies at the intersection of culture, commerce, and creators, with a focus on using disruptive technology to gain widespread adoption and lasting competitive advantage. The studio de-risks venture builds, shortens the time to market, and increases the likelihood of success through a rigorous studio ideation and validation method, well-curated and highly vetted founding teams, and a powerful shared venture platform.
Heretic is founded and led by Mariam Naficy, a veteran entrepreneur with a perfect record in founding and scaling money-making companies – Eve.com (1999), which sold for $110M one year after launch, and Minted (2007), a private, profitable company which generates several hundred million dollars in annual sales. Naficy brings her track record in commerce, marketplace, community, and content experience to the fund – but most importantly, the knowledge of how to test, select, and launch early-stage ideas and how to recruit early career talent who have strong entrepreneurial potential.
“Mariam and the team she is building at Heretic are as special as they come,” says Gerald Risk, Partner at TTCER. “It is rare to have the opportunity to partner with a high character, proven entrepreneur whom you have known for more than a decade. We jumped at the chance to invest in Heretic generally and Tonic.xyz in particular.”
Tonic.xyz, a Heretic venture, reimagines the art collectors’ experience and extends access to blockchain art beyond crypto-native consumers. The platform provides a safe space for consumers to learn about and collect generative fine art that bridges the digital and physical worlds. Its first three fine art auctions sold out, generating a total of over $4.2M in both primary and secondary GMV sales in less than three months. Its recent release, Strands of Solitude, from renowned, Parisian generative artist and coder William Mapan, is the second-largest release of the year across the entire generative art market. Tonic.xyz appointed co-founder Susannah Maybank, the former Head of Digital at Gagosian, as Chief Executive Officer.
“Generative art, an innovative medium emerging from the intersection of crypto and AI, holds enormous potential to revolutionize the art market and attract a broader collector base,” says Brian Cho, Co-Founder and General Partner at Patron. “The co-founders, Susannah and Mariam, bring a wealth of exceptional talent and experience to the table, having worked extensively in design, creator economy, and fine art space. The early enthusiastic support from their community has been exhilarating, as we at Patron believe the Tonic platform has the power to unite the traditional and digital art realms.”
Adds Risk, “From my vantage point as first an entrepreneur, then as an investor, and more recently as a Lecturer at Stanford’s business school, I have seen many great talents. Even among this remarkable comparison group, Susannah stands out.”
As a part of their 0-to-1 development process, Heretic Ventures utilizes a deep network of advisors and experts across industries and technologies. Heretic Ventures is currently working on incubating AI-based businesses, with renowned engineer and entrepreneur Pasha Sadri (Polyvore, Whatsapp) as an advisor. Celebrated generative artist and creative coder Emily Xie advises the studio as a creator, technologist, and web3 expert.
“Between access to talent and major shifts in enabling technology like AI, we are possibly at the best moment I’ve seen in my career to launch disruptive new businesses,” said Mariam Naficy, Managing Partner of Heretic. “At a time when there is an investor flight to quality, Heretic Ventures is fortunate to have the entrepreneurial experience to see around corners, identify great entrepreneurs like Susannah, and help shape the DNA of our portfolio companies to de-risk and build enduring businesses. I’m proud that we are able to revolutionize the art collecting experience with Tonic and I’m looking forward to continuing to bring groundbreaking businesses to life with the talented Heretic team.”
“In Mariam, I have found someone I learn from every day, and in Heretic, a team willing to put their full force behind making my vision a success. Mariam has built an experienced, versatile, and kind entrepreneurial team at Heretic, proof of her exceptional ability to spot talent,” said Susannah Maybank, CEO of Tonic.xyz.
The Heretic team brings venture building, business strategy, and creator experience from companies such as Marvel Entertainment, The Boston Consulting Group, IDEO, Syndicate, Tidal, Texas Pacific Group, Creative Artists Agency, and more.
Please visit https://heretic.ventures/ to learn more.
ABOUT HERETIC VENTURES
Backed by investors and entrepreneurs who are household names, Heretic is a San Francisco-based venture studio bringing together capital and talent to found, incubate, and fund culture-defining commerce and creator companies that gain widespread adoption and lasting competitive advantage. For more information about Heretic, visit https://heretic.ventures/.
ABOUT MARIAM NAFICY
Mariam Naficy is a veteran entrepreneur with a perfect record in founding and scaling successful companies – Eve.com (1999), the world’s first online cosmetics retailer, which sold for $110M one year after launch, and Minted (2007), a private, profitable company which generates several hundred million dollars in annual sales. Prior to founding Minted, Naficy led Product Management at Movielink, an early movie-downloading service. Naficy sits on the Board of Directors of Minted, Medium, Victoria’s Secret, and Every Mother Counts. She is a Trustee of Williams College and a member of the Advisory Council of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
TTCER is an investment partnership formed to support entrepreneurs who are buying and building enduring businesses. We have a core focus on search funds, but we actively back other start-ups and talented entrepreneurs of all types. In our investing approach, we prioritize learning, collaboration, and alignment, and we work hard to help our partners reach their full potential. We invest our own capital, which allows us to have a decades-long time horizon when working with like-minded CEOs and partners. Our investment team is led by Will Thorndike, Gerald Risk, and Sara Rosenthal. Our additional partners are Bret Comolli, Jim Ellis, and Kevin Taweel. The founding members of TTCER draw on years of collaboration building Asurion, a search-acquired company that has grown into a global provider of technology care services, as well as advising dozens of other growing, recurring revenue businesses. We are educators, company builders, and investors, whose combined experience and shared vision allow us a unique and powerful foundation from which to support the entrepreneurs with whom we partner.
Patron, an early-stage venture firm, invests in the next generation of startups, drawing on its extensive experience in the interactive space. Its investment thesis posits that games have evolved beyond entertainment, with 3B+ users globally and companies like Roblox and Discord dominating the time and mindshare of the next wave of internet users. The firm raised its debut fund of $90 million in 2021, anchored by top institutions, with notable individual limited partners (LPs) like Marc Andreessen, Fred Wilson, and Chris Dixon. For more, visit http://www.patron.xyz.