Win a chess match, earn a $1,000,000 investment in your startup

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A.J. Steigman is the chief executive of Soletron, a social e-commerce platform. Peter Thiel is a legendary venture capitalist and co-founder of PayPal. Both are internationally ranked “life master” chess players.

In perhaps the oddest investment strategy ever seen, Steigman has challenged Thiel to a chess match. High finance is often referred to as a chess match, but now it could be literally true.

“If I win, Peter would invest a million dollars at a pretty decent valuation,” Steigman told VentureBeat. “If I lose, I would give up a chunk of equity to Peter.”

Soletron’s social commerce platform is similar to Etsy — the company finds up-and-coming designers and artists and gives them a place in which to showcase and sell their products.┬áThe company already has angel investments from a number of prominent investors but is seeking a first round of venture capital.

Above: A.J. Steigman

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Soletron’s curious investment strategy has its roots in the fact that both Steigman and Thiel have been chess masters for many years. Thiel is currently ranked 919 in the US; Steigman is 456, so perhaps he has an edge.

But win or lose, Steigman expects charity to be a big beneficiary.

“My goal is that the event will be sponsored, and that revenue will go to charity,” he said.

In addition, Steigman says he wants to show entrepreneurs that “unconventional tactics can work” when seeking funding for a company.

The … million-dollar … question, of course, is whether Peter Thiel has responded.

“I haven’t heard back from Peter yet,” Steigman told me. “We’re trying to get the word out to reach his people.”

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