Startup News

Blockchain marketplace CanYa raises $1.5 million in 24 hours with pre-sale initial coin offering

Angela Castles /


CanYa co-founder John-Paul Thorbjornsen. Source: Supplied.

CanYa, a Melbourne-based startup that allows service providers like a Darwin crocodile wrestler to be paid in cryptocurrency has raised $1.5 million in its pre-sale initial coin offering.

The startup provides a blockchain-based peer-to-peer marketplace where consumers can engage directly with providers looking to both make payments, and be paid, through cryptocurrencies.

Founded in 2015, the startup was created to “accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrencies” by creating a “meaningful ecosystem” of buyers and sellers who utilise this form of payment in their daily lives, according to its chief executive and co-founder John-Paul Thorbjornsen.

“For now, people have cryptocurrencies but it’s so hard for them to find a meaningful use for it in their day to day lives,” he tells StartupSmart. 

“The whole point of CanYa is that it’s quite easy and you can use it as a currency in your daily life; it brings a meaningful reason for users to spend and retail their services with cryptocurrencies.” 

Thorbjornsen says the platform now hosts more than 4,000 service providers like gardeners, electricians and even drone pilots and crocodile wrestlers, all offering their skills to CanYa’s more than 8000 registered users Australia-wide, and has global expansion in its sights after its most recent raise.

The $1.5 million raised in this pre-sale ICO was facilitated through the sale of 13.2 million tokens — called CanYaCoins — issued on the Ethereum cryptocurrency network. The pre-sale closed on Sunday, selling out after just 24 hours, and Thorbjornsen says he’s not surprised at the speed of this funding round in light of its rapidly-growing adoption rate in the blockchain community.

In addition to the pre-ICO funds, CanYa has previously raised $850,000 in initial seed funding from private investors and founder capital in 2016, and another $250,000 in funding from private investors midway through this year.

The startup is now preparing for its ICO, which will launch on November the 12th and will see another 48 million CanYaCoins released for purchase in the hopes of raising $25 million in funding.

The funds from both the pre-sale and main ICO will be used to double CanYa’s current team of 10, develop its platform to become a decentralised marketplace, and “bring the ecosystem to the global community” Thorbjornsen says.

Read more: “Crowdfunding on steroids” — the new ‘initial coin offering’ craze explained

“Everything we know about today is going to be disrupted by blockchain technology”

CanYa is the second startup to successfully raise funds on the blockchain in the last week, with Perth-based energy startup Power Ledger closing an impressive $34 million ICO for its blockchain-based technologies.

Despite these two successful raises, ICOs have largely been eschewed by startups in favour of traditional forms of funding like venture capital investment. Sydney-based startup Veredictum is one of the few other Australian startups that has undertaken an ICO, however, this fell short of its $2.5 million goal, instead raising under $500,000.

While Thorbjornsen says the blockchain is an “incredibly innovative space”, the platform and its cryptocurrency offerings have been the subject of international attention after China banned ICOs and shut down many Bitcoin exchanges in the country.

John Price, commissioner of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, has also warned consumers of the danger of losing money though ICOs, labelling them “highly speculative investments” as ASIC released guidelines for those looking to utilise this form of funding.

Despite Price’s warnings on ICOs, Thorbjornsen says “Australia especially seems to be an incredibly crypto-friendly jurisdiction,” adding that the guidelines ASIC has introduced will further protect consumers and startups in the space.

“I think they’ve [industry regulators] been quite reasonable in their approach — we are not going to see regulatory knee jerks which we have seen in China,” Thorbjornsen says.

“I think Australia’s approach [to cryptocurrency and ICOs] is going to be more measured and in concert with the community: with a strong ecosystem, our industry can be stronger and bigger.”

Thorbjornsen predicts “everything we know about today is going to be disrupted by blockchain technology” as we start to see a prevalence of startups raising funds through ICOs and consumers getting in on the “ground floor” of the future tech giants.

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Angela Castles

Angela Castles is a former StartupSmart journalist.