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Even just a few years ago it wasn't a given that a person would even have a text messaging plan; I remember friends of mine even after college either not having one, or not wanting to receive them because they were still limited. Now, I think texting is my main source of social interaction, outside of actually talking to people of course. It's such an easy way to quickly relay a simple message without bother to have to, you know, talk to the person.
Yet the text remains, to be honest, fairly boring. Outside of an emoji or picture, there's not much you can really do with it. And that has kept the text from ever becoming a part of social media, where it's all about being visual.
Boldomatic, a text-only social network and eCommerce platform that wants to change that, has now raised $700,000 in a seed round funding, it was announced on Thursday.
The Swiss company initially raised a 300,000 CHF ($317,000) round and has now completed it with another 350,000 CHF ($370,000 USD), Steffen Schietinger, Co-Founder and CEO of Boldomatic, told me in an interview. The initial investment came from Prakriti Projects and, for the second one, the funding came additional investors from the same network, including Lakewood AG, another investment company from the Zurich area.
Founded in November 2012 by creative agency Nerves, Boldomatic is a free app for iOS, Android and web browser that allows writers to create text-only posts that increase visibility on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram.
The network features campaigns that allow companies to initiate contests around specific brand-related themes and encourage the Boldomatic creative writing community to contribute sayings and ideas.
"From my point of view, text has been neglected for too long in the social media space. There's this famous saying, 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' but if you ask me, I've seen enough bathroom selfies, shots of Starbucks cups or kitties. Rather, show me some brains and share what's actually on your mind. The creative possibilities are only limited by your vocabulary. We are challenging the creative potential of our writers on a weekly basis with creative contests around specific themes," Schietinger said.
"This can be anything -- we've had contests on #potato and #NSA alike, and the submissions we receive just speak for themselves. We've opened this creative contest scheme to brands, which can also sponsor contests. Say you're Starbucks. You could choose an obvious theme to sponsor, such as #coffee, or try something more open-ended, like #morning."
Contest submissions are hashtagged with a user's brand name and the theme and are shared beyond the Boldomatic network, since writers do want to increase their chance of winning one of the brand-sponsored prizes.
"This means our community turns into brand ambassadors on their behalf. Writers get extra exposure, a chance to win awesome prizes, and the brand gets exposure and content to use. It's a true win-win," said Schietinger. "For our users, we provide an amazing platform that connects writers from all over the world and lets them join in discussion about topics and themes, as well as create a network of followers and friends. Our community has an active voice in the design of the network. For our customers, we provide a next-generation marketing platform where they get genuine interaction with their audience, far beyond "off-the-shelf" marketing."
Rather than being in competition with other social networks, Boldomatic instead wants to be "complementary" to them.
"There are numerous niche players: tools that enable you to do things like write over a picture of a sunset, but none of them combines technology with design and an engaged creative community the way we do," said Schietinger. "You can't copy a communities culture or attitude, and we're particularly proud of the open, tolerant and witty crowd of people that we gathered on Boldomatic."
Boldomatic also features an online shop, which allows users to create and purchase physical products of their statements on prints, apparel and accessories such as posters, canvases, t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags and pillows. Products can feature community-generated content around themes such as Valentine’s Day, or users can create entirely custom messages.
Boldomoatic currently has 76,000 monthly active users, with a total number of app sign-ups at 115,000. And it will use the new funding to expand even further, expanding it to 170 countries.
The company, which already has many U.S. users, also see a lot of growth potential in Northern America.
"In order for our network to grow to its full potential, we feel the U.S. market is integral to properly penetrate the social media landscape," Schietinger told me.
The money will also be used to continue to invest significantly in engineering in order to improve the user experience and to find new ways of connecting inspiring people with brands.
"Good design and good products are often very simple. Boldomatic is simple and pure. We believe in quality over quantity. We believe that it's your right to stay anonymous in the digital space if you choose. And we believe it takes time and dedication to build a great network and that it's not about rapid money-driven growth, but the bigger picture of the concept," said Schietinger.
"We've learned from the early explorers and the way they (intended to) make money, most of them by compromising the user experience. We show that community and brand interests can go hand-in-hand within and beyond the digital space."
(Image source: boldomatic.com)
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