Social Marketplace Receives Government Funding, Private Investment

Salt Lake CityBlockchain-based software startup SOMA has successfully closed a €1.1M bridge funding round, which includes a substantial investment from the Finnish Government as well as private angel investors. Based in Helsinki but with a strong U.S. presence, SOMA integrates social interactions, e-commerce, and the tracking and authentication of items. “These funds will empower SOMA to continue our strong growth trajectory,” said Jukka Hilmola, one of SOMA’s co-founders. “SOMA is in a very good position going forward.”

SOMA opens its social marketplace to a limited group in June, and to the public in July. The company will use its bridge funds to perform market research, acquire users, and iterate on its product. Initially focusing on the high-end watch sector, SOMA has signed more than 50 watch brands pre-launch to sell their products on the social marketplace.

To drive user acquisition, SOMA partners are offering exclusive limited edition watches made for SOMA, as well as SOMA-specific discounts. “Our watchmaking partners have been willing to work with us to make this a success,” says co-founder Jacob Andra, who is based in Salt Lake City, Utah and is responsible for global growth. “They see the SOMA vision and want it to succeed.” For example, Fernando Ronzon, a Mexican-Canadian watchmaker, is creating two unique timepieces in his acclaimed “Jumping Hours” series exclusive to SOMA. Paris-based Sartory-Billard, Swiss craftsman Olivier Mory, Italian watchmaker ErridiBi, and others are providing similar exclusives.

SOMA innovates on traditional ecommerce—and traditional social media—by providing a “social marketplace” experience. “Early on, we noticed that people want to do transactions in a social context,” Hilmola recalls. SOMA users will be able to share, like, buy, sell, comment, and discover products in a single integrated user interface. Additionally, SOMA assigns each item a digital identity, known as the “Interactive Item Card” (IIC), which retains all history of the item’s provenance, history, verifications of authenticity, and social interactions on the platform. “Other platforms are doing parts of this,” notes Andra, “but SOMA’s integration of complementary functions into a single product creates a synergy that really differentiates us.”