Former Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg’s startup, Meeno, has secured a $3.9 million seed round led by Sequoia. The company aims to combat loneliness through its AI-powered chatbot, set to launch on the App Store in December.
Meeno, the brainchild of former Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg, has recently announced that it has raised $3.9 million in seed funding. The funding round was led by Sequoia, a prominent venture capital firm known for its investments in successful startups. Meeno intends to use this funding to further develop its AI-powered chatbot and release its app on the App Store by December. The app will initially be available in several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
Former Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg’s startup Meeno, which aims to combat loneliness with its AI chatbot, has secured $3.9 million in seed funding led by Sequoia. Meeno plans to release its app on the App Store in December, initially targeting countries such as the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and more. The startup differentiates itself by positioning its solution as a “personal mentor” rather than a virtual companion or therapist.
In addition to Sequoia, other notable investors participating in the seed round include Andrew Ng’s AI Fund and NEA. This brings Meeno’s total funding to $5 million, as the company had previously raised a pre-seed round in April. During the pre-seed round, Meeno attracted the attention of several angel investors, including industry experts such as Megan Jones Bell (Clinical Director of Mental Health, Google) and Jim Lanzone (CEO of Yahoo).
Meeno positions itself as a unique player in the AI chatbot space by categorizing its solution as a “personal mentor,” setting it apart from other AI chatbot companion startups like Replika and Blush. The company clarifies that its chatbot is not intended to be a virtual romantic partner, therapist, or coach. Instead, Meeno aims to provide users with personalized relationship advice that improves over time through machine learning algorithms.
In a blog post, the company expressed its commitment to avoiding biased conversations by collecting information such as age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation during the app’s setup process. This data enables the chatbot to deliver tailored advice while being mindful of potential biases.
Inspired by her experiences during her tenure at Tinder, where she noticed the loneliness prevalent among young users, Renate Nyborg embarked on this venture. After leaving Tinder in August 2022, she connected with Andrew Ng, an artificial intelligence expert, who suggested using large language models (LLMs) as a potential technological solution for loneliness.
As Meeno prepares for its app launch, the startup has decided to focus on iOS first due to the popularity of iPhones among teenagers and the privacy tools offered by Apple. Additionally, Meeno is offering 12 months of premium access to users who sign up before January 31, 2024.
While AI chatbots have gained popularity, they have also faced criticism for inappropriate behavior. Snap, for example, faced challenges with its AI chatbot, My AI, and had to implement safeguards to protect user experience. Given Meeno’s target audience of Gen Z users, the company will need to ensure that its AI chatbot adheres to certain standards and guidelines to avoid any potential pitfalls.