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AcadArena Closes PHP175M to Keep Building What We Wish We Had as Students

December 13, 2021
Justin Banusing

Hey, everyone! This is Ariane, Justin and Kevin writing. 

You may know us as the trio who would meme with you in the AcadArena Lounge Discord to help you with your love lives. To the rest of the world right now, we’ve just raised the largest seed round by a Gen Z startup in the Philippines.

We’re excited to announce the closing of AcadArena’s $3.5 Million (PHP175M) seed round to scale our campus gaming communities in SEA and bring students into web3 -- led by pioneering crypto fund 1KX and participated in by premier funds across the world like Hashed, PKO Investments, Kingsway, Iterative, Infinity Ventures Crypto, Eden Holdings and Hustle Fund

In the spirit of education: a seed round is basically the first round of funding a startup takes, meaning that this is just the start of the rodeo, carabao-carozza race or Naruto run -- depending where you’re from 🐮🤠🐱‍👤. 

Some of the minds behind things we grew up with also joined in, like Kevin Lin (Twitch), Kun Gao (Crunchyroll), Holly Liu (Kabam), Patrick Lee (Rotten Tomatoes), Jeff “Jiho” Zirlin (Axie Infinity), Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis (Pipeline), Michael Chow (XRM Media), Ray Chan (9GAG) and many more!

This shows just how much the world believes in the potential of our community’s mission to change generations and the world through video games, crypto and good vibes.

🤯 $3.5M? That’s Krazy!

TL;DR: More cool things for student gamers 🥳!

Now, you may be wondering: what exactly are we going to do with $3.5 million dollars?  ̶I̶n̶t̶e̶r̶n̶a̶l̶l̶y̶,̶ ̶w̶e̶ ̶w̶a̶n̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶m̶y̶s̶t̶i̶c̶ ̶A̶x̶i̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶a̶ ̶C̶6̶ ̶A̶l̶b̶e̶d̶o̶.̶

Sheesh! That’s a lot of money. To put things into perspective, this is the largest round raised by a Filipino Gen Z startup -- and one of the largest seed rounds in Philippine history as a whole.

This means, as a company, we have the security to stay and grow with you for many years to come. Money which we intend on improving our current programs to make a better future for every student gamer and build new ones too, eventually scaling across Southeast Asia.

You’ve taken us places. With the fund, we can take it further by making AcadArena the place where students play, connect and earn.

As we pitched and introduced AcadArena and what we’ve done together to investors and partners from across the globe (and with our friends at Globe), we realized that no one is doing campus gaming the way we do anywhere. 

While we’ve been around since 2019, now is the closest we’ve felt to our mission of building what we wish we had as students. That’s why we took the leap and sought funding to scale further and faster. 

Moving forward, we’re even more committed to our dream of proving campus gaming as a force for good. 

🚛 All In(t)

AcadArena used to be a weekend project. Now it's so much more.

Two years ago, we never saw ourselves doing this as our full-time career. AcadArena was but a passion gig we did on weekends. Ariane and Kevin were still at their full time jobs, and Justin was juggling this with college (and still is 🤡).

This year-- with your support -- we went all in and quit our full-time jobs, took pay cuts and looked for OP team mates that believed in what we did. 

In 2021 alone, our community has grown to over 150,000 students spanning more than 500 schools -- all doing the things they love, be it competing in esports, learning about web3 and the gaming industry, meeting new friends, getting a grant for their family or earning their way through school through play-to-earn games.


Let’s be real: startup life can be as toxic as your solo queue games. We’ve been ganked, griefed and sniped by both randos and pros in and out of the industry. We muted and did our jobs. The three of us have lived and breathed campus gaming and esports for years. We knew our win conditions.

Over time and as a community, we’ve proven them wrong  ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶ ̶̶̶A̶̶̶D̶̶̶C̶̶̶ ̶̶̶A̶̶̶h̶̶̶r̶̶̶i̶̶̶ ̶̶̶i̶̶̶s̶̶̶ ̶̶̶v̶̶̶i̶̶̶a̶̶̶b̶̶̶l̶̶̶e̶̶̶. Others tried to copy us, undermine us, and even erase the impact of our programs

They tried but missed the point. 

We’ve never been in it for the money. We’re in it to make the four years (or seven if you’re from UP or an engineering major🤔) of your college life the best. We believe that if you do good, good things will follow. 

One thing is certain at the end of the day: our strength is in you, our community, and all the great things we’ve done together.

🎮 Entering the Meta(noia)verse

We see the metaverse allowing us to empower communities more than ever before.

As we grow, we plan on giving students actual voting power to decide things in AcadArena from our products to our community direction. In crypto terms, we’re decentralizing parts of AcadArena and distributing ownership to our community via a token network ($AA to the moon 🚀)

The community will be able to propose and vote on things like: 

We are cautiously optimistic about the web3 space. Like with any cutting-edge tech, there are good and bad things that can be done with it. Esports, streaming and gaming held similar stigma and skepticism when it was new. Never forget, we were the first nation to ban video games in the 80’s during the Martial Law.

The metaverse has opened up a wealth of opportunities for our community to earn, learn and grow through their passion for games, and we look forward to exploring more of it as time comes. Never did we think we could own a piece of our favorite games while we were growing up and earn a living playing them!

More students in AcadArena can do this now without needing the internet speed to stream or the time commitment to scrim as a pro. 

We understand the concerns with web3 given that it is a new frontier. We are absorbing the risks in crypto, investing directly in our student community. In the end, we’re just using crypto to solve student problems.

😍 A Big Thank You

One of our first IRL events at our convention, CONQuest 2019!

Our long-term goal is to make the AcadArena experience better and more inclusive for every student gamer -- first in the Philippines then soon, Southeast Asia as a whole. 

To our students, thank you for being you and wanting to be more. You continuously surprise us in what you can do whether as an individual, a team or campus.

To our partners, thank you for the trust. Even when we were a ragtag volunteer gig, you all took the chance on us and believed in our mission; we’re looking forward to many more years of growing together.

To our team members both past and present, thank you for dedicating a part of your lives to this mission. We wouldn’t be grinding it out with any other group of people.  Because of our shared values, we’ll always find ways to squad up one way or another.

To everyone else, AcadArena is always open to all students and pretty much anyone who wants to help the next generation. 

This is a crazy time to be alive. Together, let's keep to our motto and show that campus gaming is #NotJustPlay. 

The real work begins now. LFG 💪.

We’re also hiring -- we’ll be posting listings soon but hit us up at careers@acadarena.com if you’d like to chat.

🤝 Join AcadArena:

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