A streaming service for stand-up comedy called Laugh.ly, which publicly launched this past August, has now closed on $2.25 million in seed funding led by New York Angels, the company announced today. Available for both iOS and Android devices, Laugh.ly is the first to offer an extensive library of comedians’ stand-up sets, with content from top names in the biz, including Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, Louis C.K., Hannibal Buress, George Carlin, Chris Rock and others.
In addition to lead investors New York Angels, the round included participation from Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran, the Wharton Alumni Angel Network, Social+Capital, Backstage Capital, Treehouse Capital, Accelerator Ventures and Atlas Holdings.
The startup debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt New York 2016, where it was plucked out of the Startup Alley as one of the Startup Battlefield Wild Card winners, and earned the chance to pitch onstage to judges and VCs.
The startup has an interesting history. The app was created by Dave Scott, a serial entrepreneur with a background in e-commerce and marketing automation. But Scott explained that he found himself drawn to comedy, and later became a stand-up himself, doing open mic nights and attending San Francisco Comedy College. This gave him first-hand insight into the comedy business and its many challenges.
With the debut of Laugh.ly, the goal has been to give comedians a new stream of income in an era where fewer people are buying comedians’ CDs and DVDs, and instead are watching sets online through streaming services like Netflix and HBO Now. But while those stand-up videos are now easier to find online, the CD equivalent is not. That’s where Laugh.ly comes in.
Described as something of a Pandora for comedy, the app can create personalized “radio” stations of comedy, in addition to offering on-demand listening.
Laugh.ly today has grown to include albums from 400 comedians at launch to now more than 650 comedians, and has seen the addition of tens of thousands of tracks.
Since August 2016, the app has been used by more than 200,000 users — growth which Scott tells us has been largely organic through word-of-mouth referrals. Users are listening for more than 60 minutes per session, on average, the company also says.
“We’re creating a one-stop-shop for funny,” said Scott, in a statement about the funding. “It’s been great seeing our vision and the passion our team has for providing access to quality stand-up comedy come to fruition.”
The app itself is free, but Laugh.ly offers a premium tier that delivers a handful of paid features, including the ability to listen offline, remove ads and filter out profanity. (Scott declined to disclose where the company was in terms of revenue, however.)
Behind the scenes, Laugh.ly uses technology built in-house that can understand the comedians’ material in order to help users find the comedy they like. For example, you can search for jokes about a particular subject just by typing in a keyword in its search engine. Meanwhile, transcription technology is used to help Laugh.ly filter out profanity.
The additional funds will be used to build out the engineering team, hire key players in the comedy and entertainment market, and release the next features and developments, the company says.