A mobile application that makes life easier for parents, Winnie, has raised $2.25 million in seed funding to continue to grow its business. The app, essentially, is a directory that provides information from the perspective of parents on nearby restaurants, parks, schools, and other points of interest – that is, things like whether the local diner has changing tables for infants, or if the coffee shop has a place for the kids to play, for example.
And, of course, it will tell you where to find the nearest restrooms.
The idea for Winnie comes from Bay Area technologists, Sara Mauskopf (Winnie CEO), who spent time at Postmates, Twitter, YouTube and Google, and Anne K. Halsall (CPO), also from Postmates and Google, as well as Quora and Inkling.
After becoming parents themselves, they built the app out their own personal need for this sort of information which couldn’t be easily discovered using Google Maps or review services, like Yelp and Foursquare.
In addition to helping parents – and especially new parents – navigate the world more easily with their children, by pointing them to family friendly destinations like playgrounds and museums, Winnie also more broadly highlights the importance of having women-led startups. The app is not something kids fresh out of college would think to build, necessarily, as they have never struggled to change a baby on a dirty bathroom floor, or had a miserable shopping experience where their stroller was simply too large for the store’s aisles.
Since its launch, Winnie has expanded beyond the Bay Area to over 100 cities and its database of parent-friendly information now includes over 1 million locations. However, the app is more useful in larger metros, we found.
The team has also added more content to the app, including details on restaurants where kids eat free, places with public mother’s rooms, preschools and family friendly hotels.
The company isn’t discussing its user numbers, but Winnie is still a niche product. It’s unranked on the App Store, which implies it has a very small number of downloads. The challenge for the business now is to get parents using the app and contributing content, which means the team will have to figure out how to tap into the mom’s word-of-mouth network to grow.
Winnie isn’t making any money right now, either, as it focuses on user growth. The app is a free download on iOS and, soon, Android, in addition to being available on the web.
“Right now we are entirely focused right now on building a utility for parents that they use frequently. The product is free to use and the core product will remain free,” explains Mauskopf. “It’s important to us to reach all parents and not just those who are able to spend a lot of money on activities for their children,” she says.
The new funds come from Homebrew, BBG Ventures, Ludlow Ventures, Flight Ventures, Deep Fork Capital, KPCB, and #Angels, and will be used primarily to hire engineers to expand Winnie’s team of five.