Keek, the Toronto-based social video sharing startup that emphasizes communication over entertainment through bite-sized 36-second smartphone movie clips, today announced an $18 million funding round, led by AGF Investments, Pinetree Capital and Plazacorp Ventures, along with Cranson Capital. The new money comes after Keek added $7 million in new funding just a few short months ago in October, and is designed to help the network keep pace with what it describes as explosive growth.
Keek added 6 million users in just the past 30 days, the startup shared, and claims 200,000 new sign-ups per day. Engagement metrics on the network include roughly 8 million monthly comments and likes, along with 30 million monthly follows and subscribes. Keek founder and CEO Isaac Raichyk explained in an interview that his company is gaining ground where others like Klip and Socialcam have fallen out of the spotlight mostly because Keek’s focus is on simple, quick and painless communication, vs. editing, feature overload and entertainment.
“We, from the beginning, have looked at video as a form of communication,” Raichyk explained about how Keek’s vision of what mobile video sharing means differs from the rest of the field. “It’s a way for people to communicate with their friends, with the followers, with their fans, or whoever, but it’s a way to communicate. We don’t provide any beautification filters, no video editing, just point; shoot; upload; communicate.”
Asked why Keek needs the additional $18M so soon after another raise, Raichyk said that the earlier round was more of a “friends and family” type of arrangement, and that this one brings on some big-name investors, and also girds the company for a massive infrastructure expansion, which he says has already been in process over the past six months to support Keek’s international growth. Other efforts to help with internationalization include building an effective system for detecting a user’s location and serving them top and trending content specific to that locale, so that the content they see in the welcome carousel in the app is actually relevant to those users.
Keek is on a roll with celebrities back home in North America, with famous users like Kim Kardashian, Adam Lambert and 2 Chainz driving engagement, but Raichyk said that kind of endorsement has come after ordinary users embraced the platform rather than driving new sign-ups, and he expects a similar bottom up adoption curve in international markets. Growth strategies for new areas where Keek still sees lots of room for audience acquisition, like in Asia Pacific, include mostly the same kind of word-of-mouth efforts that have managed to help it succeed in the English-speaking world, and recently make big inroads in South America.
Social video sharing still hasn’t had its Instagram moment, I’d argue, but Keek looks to be convincing investors it is best-positioned to make that happen.