Blend, a social networking app for college students that looks to include brands right from the get-go, has today announced that it secured a $2.7 million seed round led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Trinity Ventures, Foundation Capital, Lerer Ventures, Maveron, BoxGroup, XG Ventures, and SparkLabs Global Ventures.
For now, the company is still in beta, but the funding is meant to help expand into a full-fledged product by end of summer in 2014.
Blend is trying to learn from social networks that have come before it by letting brands be a part of the app from the very beginning, instead of offering a purely consumer-facing app and then adding in advertisers later. By curating the brands allowed on the platform, and offering rewards to users for interactions with those brands, Blend’s college demographic seems happy to be hanging out in the same space as advertisers.
Since launching the beta at the end of October, the app sees over 50,000 daily active users with a higher daily and monthly engagement rate than Pinterest, according to founder Akash Nigam. The app is available at almost any college in the U.S., except for Ohio State (the founders are big Michigan fans).
“We deleted the accounts of about 2,000 Ohio State users,” added Nigam proudly.
Blend offers users a “Blend theme of the day”, and users are encouraged to snap photos based on that theme. Users with the best photos receive Blend Currency which can be used to purchase rewards from advertisers.
According to Nigam, brands reach out to get on the app every single day, but the team is super critical when bringing a new brand on the platform. “We’d say no to Wal-Mart, and we have said no to Barnes & Noble,” said Nigam. “Chegg is hot right now for text books, so we chose them instead.”
Other brand partners include Uber, Rowdy Gentleman, Fraternity Collection, and Alex & Ani.
Blend launched out of the Digital Catalyst accelerator with $1.3 million in funding, and is now ready to take the app to the next level with this latest seed round.
You can check out the app here.