Sydney startup Tinybeans has secured $2 million in funding from private investors to fuel the parenting social network's international ambitions.
Focussed on child development, Tinybeans is a free private network for parents to share news and photos of about their children with selected family members. It is available on the Web and as a mobile app on Apple iOS and Google Android devices.
Unlike Facebook, posts are not public by default, and parents must specifically invite the people who they want to see this private journal about their children.
"Facebook owns the data [and] it's a public environment, whereas [on Tinybeans] you own the content and it's intentionally private," Tinybeans co-founder Eddie Geller told Computerworld Australia.
Another reason to post on Tinybeans is that not all of a person's Facebook friends want to see baby pictures every day, he added.
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Tinybeans is two years old and has 500,000 customers; the startup predicts it will double that number by yearend. The service itself is free, but the company offers paid printing services to create scrapbooks and calendars, and plans later this year to adopt a freemium model with extra features for paid users.
Before seeking the funding announced today, the startup had been bootstrapped by its co-founders. Much of the company's early growth came from viral marketing. In the last 12 months, the company added partnerships -- including Scholastic Australia -- and fleshed out its commercialisation strategy, said Geller.
"In February or March this year, we got to a certain point where we decided we've got enough to go and raise external capital."
Finding funding was not difficult, he said. "The challenge wasn't so much finding the investors, it was finding the type of investor that would be a fit for us."
The $2 million capital injection has come from private investors in Sydney, Hong Kong and London, said Geller. The funding will help Tinybeans next year open an office in the US, where more than 50 per cent of its customers call home, he said.
A look at the iOS app. Credit: Tinybeans
The startup plans to keep its headquarters in Sydney for now. "Our plan is to set up a US office early next year focussed on sales and marketing, and then probably do our next capital raising in the US."
Raising money in the US could require the company to move its base of operations abroad, he said.
The startup also plans to use the new funding to hire employees, ramp up brand marketing and invest in new features for its social network, Geller said.
"The brand has really been under the radar," he admitted. "The product is really great, but we need to get the message and the awareness out there."