Amino, a startup that’s built 41 different mobile community apps (so far), is announcing that it has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding.
I first wrote about the company a little more than a year ago, when it raised a $1.65 million seed round. Co-founder and CEO Ben Anderson told me that the idea was to reinvent the traditional online forum with a smartphone-optimized experience where people interested in, say, Doctor Who or K-pop could connect with like-minded users.
Anderson said today that “a surprising number of popular interests and topics simply don’t have any sort of community presence on mobile.” That’s something he and his co-founder Yin Wang (they met at Northeastern University) were personally aware of, because they grew up with niche interests of their own — anime in Anderson’s case, robotics in Anderson’s.
“We saw a world where you have Facebook for your friends, LinkedIn for your professional network and Amino for connecting with others like you,” Anderson said.
The company’s communities cover broad topics like Food and Music, but also more specific ones, like League of Legends and Swifties. Anderson said the current focus is on reaching teenage users. He added that in the past year, the time spent by an average user in “our largest Amino communities” has grown from 20 to 40+ minutes a day.
Amino apps are now available on both iOS and Android. The company is accelerating the pace at which it launches new communities, with 25 of them created this year.
The Series A was led by Venrock, with participation from previous investor Union Square Ventures. Venrock partner David Pakman is joining Amino’s board of directors, and the firm’s vice president Richard Kerby is also joining as an observer.
“Communities have always been an essential part of the internet, from BBSes, to Usenet, to online forums,” Pakman said in an emailed statement. “As teen and millennial attention dramatically shifts away from traditional media and to mobile devices, we were drawn to Amino’s relentless focus on mobile-only interest communities.”
Anderson said the funding will allow Amino to expand its development, sales and marketing teams.
“Our vision is to create a close-knit community for every interest in the world — every popular TV show, movie franchise, sports team, video game, and hobby,” he said. “This means tens of thousands of apps, so we are working to open up the Amino platform, giving individual users the power to build a community for any interest they can dream of.”