SAN FRANCISCO – October 9, 2017 – NearGroup, a chatbot allowing users to connect with like-minded people based on proximity, personality and their creative content has raised a $1.6m (£1.2m) seed round led by OpenOcean, with participation from Neotribe and BoostVC. NearGroup will use the funding to expand in Asia Pacific, the US and Europe.
The NearGroup chatbot (open in for Messenger) allows users to read the ‘stories’ of individuals nearby, and reply to people they want to start a conversation with. By showing someone’s content first, not their face, you are more likely to find something in common and avoid the “body-shopping” culture of Tinder etc.
Psychology Behind the Product
People are much more forgiving to physical flaws of others when they are able to include other criteria like intelligence and humour into the picture. According to an OkCupid Survey, the average woman considers 80% of men unattractive. They have other, more important criteria to judge men on.
Additionally, in Arabic, Indian or Eastern cultures where people can’t really have an open dating profile, the traditional Tinder/Happn/Bumble/Badoo etc dating apps don’t work too well as they are based on images. It turns out chatbots may be the way forward in these markets if a recent VC investment is anything to go by.
Why People Use it:
1. Users who wish to find love on basis of their personality not image
2. Users wishing to share frustration anonymously, to not be judged over FB
3. Women in developing nations, where open dating profile can be troublesome
4. The LGBT community
Traction & Growth
NearGroup has over 2 Million users, and has processed over 2 Billion messages to date. The current growth rate is extraordinary with 600K new-users joining every month & 20–25M messages exchanged per day. The team is targeting 100 Million users by end of December 2018 and planing to also bring nearby businesses onto the platform.
NearGroup’s User Growth
It now runs on FB messenger, Kik, Viber & Android, and there are plans for Twitter, iPhone, and Telegram. The company was founded a year ago by Prashant Pitti, who earlier served as a director at India’s 5th largest travel portal EaseMyTrip.com.
Pitti says: “We are transforming the social and dating culture in many countries where having an open dating profile may cause you trouble. That especially applies to girls and LGBT individuals. NearGroup solves this by making profiles hidden until users choose to selectively disclose them to those they’ve built a trusted conversation with.”
Patrik Backman, managing partner at OpenOcean said: “Traditional apps are at risk of getting uninstalled if they fail to find a good match for the user, resulting in high churn rates. With NearGroup, we have a chatbot that is not eating any real-estate on your mobile phone. Hence even after 2 months, they can still notify you about your newly-found match and get you back with 40% probability, which would be less than 5% on an app.”