Courtesy of Amino Apps
By Polina Marinova
December 15, 2016

If you’ve never heard of Amino Apps, it’s by design.

Amino Apps is the New York-based startup behind more than 250,000 ultra-niche communities centered on interests ranging from Pokémon to anime to K-Pop. If you have no clue this company even existed, it’s because Amino was built with “mobile natives” in mind, also known as 16 to 24-year-olds.

Users often spend more than an hour engaging with other community members on the platform using photos, videos, gifs and emoji. In other words, Amino is the Gen Z version of the antiquated online forum.

And investors are taking note. Today, the company announced that it raised $19.2 million in Series B funding from GV, Venrock, Union Square Ventures, Time Warner Investments, Goodwater Capital, and Box Group. Amino has raised a total of $27 million in venture funding to date.

Related: This Nerdy App Could Be Even More Addicting Than Pokémon Go

Ben Anderson, Amino’s 28-year-old co-founder and CEO, says the company will use the new funding to create thousands of new mobile community apps and continue its aggressive international expansion efforts.

“It’s been absolutely insane,” Anderson says. “Our users have created over a quarter million communities since July. We definitely struck a nerve.”

July was a game-changing month for Amino. The company decided to allow anyone to create an interest channel, not just Amino staff. Instead of turning every interest channel into a standalone, downloadable app, it decided to pick the most active ones. The rest could be accessed in one central “community incubator” app.

Before this move, Amino had 90 standalone apps in the Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. In just five months, that number has grown to 250. Some of the biggest Amino communities have anywhere from 50,000 members to more than a million.

Since July, users have created 250,000 new topics ranging from their favorite K-Pop band (150,000+ members) to Veganism (85,000+ members) to LGBT+ (110,000+ members). Anderson declined to share the number of active users using the Amino platform, but said the apps have been downloaded 13 million times.

This kind of traction is all great news for Amino, which is laser-focused on fast growth and user acquisition, and will continue to be “for some time.”

Still, the three-year-old company hasn’t yet figured out how to monetize. Right now, it’s working on tools for its community curators (all of whom are unpaid volunteers) that will allow them to sell digital goods like stickers and profile upgrades to members and take a cut for themselves. Future monetization options include e-commerce, brand partnerships and advertising.

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