Ostium Labs has raised £2.9 million led by leading global VCs General Catalyst and LocalGlobe to build the first decentralised perpetuals exchange for real-world assets.
The Ostium Protocol blockchain trading hub will enable on-chain price exposure to a growing segment of off-chain assets.
Ostium’s founders met at Harvard before both working at Bridgewater Associates. Marco Antonio was an International Physics and Math Olympiad medallist, representing his native country of Portugal, while Kaledora Kiernan-Linn is a former professional ballerina with the Royal Danish Ballet.
The pair began trading together across both DeFi and traditional markets and became frustrated by the cost, friction and attention split needed to manage both on- and off-chain trades across asset classes.
If blockchains are the future of financial infrastructure, they asked, why are traders using them for settlement limited to placing bets on crypto, rather than the full suite of assets they might want to trade?
The launch comes at a critical time in financial markets. The startup says alternative asset classes have rapidly gained traction, due in large part to traditional diversification strategies waning in effectiveness following inflation- and interest rate-driven disruption to market dynamics.
“Perpetuals have grown exponentially in the last 18 months. Yet the market lacks a dedicated platform for traders who want direct on-chain exposure to a broader range of asset classes,” said Kiernan-Linn.
“We’re building Ostium to fill this gap, and drive the next wave of mainstream adoption by accelerating the transition of RWAs from narrative to reality.”
The seed funding saw participation from SIG, DeFi Alliance, former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, Vessel Capital and others. It will support the company’s mainnet deployment of the Ostium Protocol, through continued growth of the development team, rigorous economic design and smart contract audits.
Ostium Labs has plans for a testnet launch in Q4, with a mainnet deployment at the start of the new year, post audits.
“We’re at a turning point in the broader market landscape. Traditional diversification strategies are no longer as effective as they used to be, and the appeal of alternative assets is growing,” said Antonio.
“We see a pressing need for a purpose-built on-chain DEX to cater to the diversification needs of traders. Ostium aims to fill this void.”