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This female-founded art tech startup just raised $5M to pioneer digital-first experience for collectors

TRLab Cofounders
Picture credits: TRLab

Lately, women entrepreneurs have rapidly embraced cutting-edge technologies like blockchain, crypto, and Web3. As per McKinsey, women are not only spending more time utilising and innovating these technologies than men but also taking the lead in launching and executing metaverse initiatives.

Numerous startups led by women are harnessing blockchain tech to address tangible issues such as supply chain management, identity verification, and financial inclusion. Furthermore, women are leaving their imprint on the art realm, crafting art NFTs and utilising this tech to exhibit their creations on a global scale. In sync with this trend is TRLab, a fine art-focused tech startup headquartered in New York, co-founded by two women.

Now, TRLab has raised $5 million in seed funding. The round was led by two blockchain-focused investment firms – Hivemind Capital Partners and OKX Ventures, which backed Sweat Economy. HashKey Capital, a digital asset and blockchain leader, also joined the round.

The fresh capital will be used to onboard additional artists, foundations, and cultural institutions onto TRLab’s platform. It also plans to expand its market presence worldwide, and integrate new technologies that improve the digital art collecting experience. Several new digital art experiences with prominent artists and estates are slated for release over the next six months and TRLab’s first-ever immersive digital art exhibition will be held in November.

Audrey Ou, TRLab Co-Founder and CEO, said: “We are proud to have the support and commitment of Hivemind and OKX Ventures as we pioneer a new way to conceptualize and collect fine art. TRLab has always occupied a unique space among digital art and Web3 platforms, and the success of our mission-driven approach shows there is ample demand for digital-centric art experiences that foster a deeper understanding of fine art and individual artists.”

Matt Zhang, Founder and Managing Partner of Hivemind Capital Partners, said: “At Hivemind, we strongly believe in the potential of long-form generative art and see the broader digital native art as the next major art genre, all empowered by blockchain technology. With TRLab’s curated vision and exceptional partnerships, they are ideally positioned to spearhead the digital art renaissance, seamlessly blending world-renowned artistry with cutting-edge technology. We’re thrilled to support Audrey, Xin, and the entire TRLab team in their mission to shape the future of digital cultural heritage.”

Jeff Ren, Partner of OKX Ventures, said, “At OKX Ventures, we recognize the transformative power of Web3 in the world of fine art. TRLab isn’t just reshaping collecting, it is pioneering a new era where Web3 technology meets timeless expression. We’re thrilled to champion this convergence.”

Launches digital-first art experiences

TRLab was incubated by Dragonfly Capital and launched in 2021, with early-stage support from major art collectors and tech entrepreneurs, including Pace Gallery, Animoca Brands, BAI Capital, and the founders of Artsy and Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum (RAM). It is a female-led company co-founded by Xin Li-Cohen, a non-executive Deputy Chairman at Christie’s, and led by CEO and co-founder Audrey Ou. 

From its locations in New York and Hong Kong, TRLab works with artists, estates, and art institutions to conceive, produce and launch digital-first art experiences for new and established collectors. 

To date, TRLab’s platform has hosted projects in partnership with Vogue, the Calder Foundation, contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang, and Rhizome, the digital art-focused affiliate of New York’s New Museum. Underpinning each project is TRLab’s educational approach, which uses online learning, competitive challenges, and digital collectibles to make fine art and art history more accessible to digital-centric audiences. 

Using this ‘play-to-learn’ approach, TRLab has introduced participants from 60 different countries to the work of modern artist Alexander Calder, as part of a multi-chapter digital partnership with the Calder Foundation that continues into 2024. 

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