A mobile application called Nearby Live, which began its life as a social app for Windows Mobile users, has slowly expanded its reach over the years and has now hit a few notable milestones. As the app, now with over 2.1 million users, heads out of the Stanford-affiliated StartX accelerator, it has rebranded, lost a co-founder, raised a small seed round, and finally reached its final platform with a launch on Android.
Previously known as Who’s Near Me Live, abbreviated as WNM Live, the app is available on Facebook, the web, Windows Phone, Windows 8, iOS, and, now Android.
The app’s premise, which was perhaps a little bit ahead of its time when it first launched several years ago, has been to connect users with new people – that is, those they didn’t know – in order to allow users to participate in one-on-one chats, share pictures, and more.
These days, this sort activity is common on mobile dating apps like Tinder. In addition, Nearby Live also allows a bit of anonymity to these interactions – you don’t have to reveal your phone number or other personal information in order to get started with the service. That ties into another larger trend which sees (primarily younger) users socializing on anonymous apps like Yik Yak, Secret and Whisper, for example.
During the company’s participation in StartX, CEO Brian Hamachek says he let go of the app’s co-founder, saying their motivations weren’t “in alignment” – the co-founder wanted a quick exit, he claims, and Hamachek says he’s in it for the “long haul.” (Well, clearly – we wrote about the app’s arrival on iOS all the way back in 2012. And that was when it had already been around for a couple of years!)
Many users today download the new Nearby Live thinking it’s another dating app, but Hamachek clarifies that’s not its only purpose. What it really is, he says, is “an anonymous place where you can share your true self and meet people.”
“Sometimes that might lead to a romantic encounter with someone local, but that happens all the time both online and offline,” he adds.
The app sees roughly 200,000 monthly actives, meaning someone who has either sent or responds to a private message, and has a stronger presence in Europe and India thanks to its Windows Phone support, as the platform is more popular in those markets.
Nearby Live generates a small amount of revenue ($300,000 in 2014) via advertisements on its website and Windows Phone app, premium features, virtual gifts, and a white-label licensing deal. This year, revenue is closer to only $150,000 as the other startup that previously licensed the technology has now gone out of business. However small, that revenue has helped keep the app going over the years, though it has never really “blown up.”
The rebranding, new feature set, and the company’s participation in StartX is focused on changing that. The app has now added support for groups, voice messages, a reputation system, and virtual gifts – but most of the new features haven’t made their way to the recently launched Android client yet.
Additionally, Nearby Live took in $250,000 in a friends and family round, which combined with the above-mentioned revenues, is being put towards accelerating some much-need hiring, says Hamachek.
The app is available as a free download, here, on all major mobile platforms.