“We spoke to investors in October but many people doubted that Yobongo would work. So we went and kept working on the product,” Yobongo co-founder Caleb Elston says. “A few weeks ago we got the product into peoples hands and literally 10 minutes from sending the beta to one of our investors he called, emailed, texted, and Yobongo messaged me. ‘I get it, I’m in.’,” he continues.
And that one investor is hardly the only one. The mobile chat service has secured a $1.35 million angel round with many familiar investors taking part. Individuals Mitch Kapor, Dave Morin, Kevin Rose, Gary Vaynerchuk, Karl Jacob, Bill Roux, Shervin Pishevar have all invested. And Freestyle Capital and True Ventures have joined in on the action as well.
“The round came together unbelievably quickly – in just a few days. We had to turn away some unbelievably talented people,” Elston says of the round. “We have hand-picked each one of our investors for their particular experience and steadfast belief in Yobongo. We wanted a group who have unique insights into social dynamics and technology and have shepherded companies through all stages of growth,” he notes.
We first previewed Yobongo in October of last year when it was still in stealth mode. By January, things were a bit more concrete — but the product wasn’t quite ready to open up just yet. In fact, that didn’t happen until earlier this month when Elston and his team felt Yobongo was far enough along to flip the switch to go live in three cities: San Francisco, New York, and Austin, Texas. The latter was important given the SXSW conference. The service emerged from there as one of the most buzzed-about apps.
And now they have to build on that — hence, the money. “This gives us massive horsepower to grow the team and build the best experience for making new connections,” Elston says.