Toronto-based startup Whirlscape has secured $500,000 in seed funding in a round that included Y Combinator, FundersClub, BDC Venture Capital and more, the company announced today. The startup created Minuum, a software keyboard that reduces occupied screen real estate to a single line, and that works with a range of devices, including wearables with small screens – or no screens at all.
The company launched its Minuum beta last year, and then made the software available to all on Google Play as a paid app later on. The 10-employee team has not only shown the value of its software on traditional hardware like smartphones, but also on devices breaking new ground in emerging categories, such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear, as seen in the video below.
Minuum made its debut on Indiegogo, where it managed to raise $87,354 over the course of its crowdfunding campaign, or almost nine times its original $10,000 goal. There’s a clear continued interest in alternative input methods for mobile devices, as evidenced by the success of others including Fleksy and SwiftKey. Growing interest in wearable tech, and the prospect of devices from major players like Google and Apple on the horizon have only served to fuel additional interest in alternative input methods for text and numbers.
“We’re working with a number of wearable device partners to try and really demonstrate the potential that Minuum has on their devices,” explained co-founder and CEO Will Walmsley in an interview. “I can’t get much more specific, but definitely there are a couple of smartwatches that we’re working with, and a couple of devices beyond smartwatches, too.”
Besides building wearable integrations, Whirlscape is also going to focus on growing its Android user base and engagement stats, leading up to the YC demo day in March, after which point Walmsley says they’ll probably turn their attention to bringing on new talent to add to the existing ten-person team.
There will be a big reward for the first company to make it easy to do text input on a tiny, wrist-borne screen if the interest in smartwatches from big OEMs continues, so Whirlscape is smart to be trying to solve that problem early on.