NearGroup, a virally growing chatbot allowing users to connect to like-minded people based on proximity, personality, and creativity today announces a successful completion of their $1.6m (£1.2m) seed round.
NearGroup will use the funding to continue domination in the space across Asia Pacific, expand in the US and Europe, and invest in scaling their technology.
The funding round was led by OpenOcean, with participation from Neotribe and BoostVC.
NearGroup chatbot allows users to read stories of individuals nearby, and reply to those they wish to start a conversation with. By showcasing hobbies and talents, like writing poems or singing, users can attract others with common interests - while only opening up their pictures and profiles later in the conversation. Instead of swiping images, NearGroup makes it possible to put personality and chemistry first, aspiring to change the “body-shopping” culture of Tinder.
The chatbot is now available on FB messenger, Kik, Viber & Android. Within a few weeks, they plan to go live on their website, Twitter, iPhone, and Telegram.
The company was founded a year ago by Prashant Pitti, who earlier served as Director at India’s 5th largest travel portal EaseMyTrip.com and was later an Associate Vice President at HSBC in Chicago.
NearGroup competes with the likes of Tinder, Happn, and other dating apps. According to Tinder stats, their looks-first approach takes 100 swipes to get just 1.6 matches, while OkCupid reveals that an average woman considers 80% of men unattractive. NearGroup founder Prashant Pitti explains their mission:
“At NearGroup, we are applying simple psychology to reverse the order of match-making from body-shopping to making friends first. It’s proven that people are much more forgiving to physical flaws of others when they are able to include other criteria like intelligence and humor into the picture.”
“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 comments on the investment:
“Chatbots are a recent phenomenon, and the way NearGroup applies it in the dating space places them well ahead of competitors. 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.”
Over the past year, NearGroup has experienced extraordinary growth, reaching 2m users and 2bn messages to date. The team expects to reach the next milestone of 100m users within a year.