Amino, a social networking platform founded by two entrepreneurs who graduated from Northeastern University, has raised $45 million during its third round of financing.
Amino centers on smartphone apps that connect users who share an interest in topics that appeal to relatively small groups of people, including Pokémon, Minecraft, and Dr. Who.
“We are trying to connect the world through people’s passions,” said Ben Anderson, the co-founder and CEO of Amino. “We want to create an engaged community for every interest in the world.”
Amino apps have been downloaded tens of millions of times by users in more than 100 countries, Anderson said. He said the average user spends 70 minutes per day on the platform—almost as much as Snapchat and Facebook combined.
“Most investors have never seen anything like this,” said Anderson, who graduated from Northeastern in 2012 with a degree in music. “It’s a massive opportunity and the users love it.”
Amino plans to use the new funding to improve the platform’s voice and video chat features, Anderson said. “We want to bring real-time connections to life even more.”
The app is available in seven languages—English, German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, French, and Portuguese—a testimony to its global appeal. “We are reminded every day that what we are building applies to cultures all over the world,” Anderson said.
One of Amino’s most popular features is the “Amino Creator,” which enables users to custom-design communities of their own. Three such communities have more than 1 million members, including a community dedicated to pop music from South Korea.
Anderson acknowledged Northeastern for helping him shape Amino into a social networking platform that appeals to a global audience. IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator, awarded him $20,000 in gap funding, connected him with an accountant, and perfected his business plan.
“Honing a business plan forced me to think about where I saw Amino going,” said Anderson, who was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Class of 2017, a list comprising 600 of the nation’s brightest young people. “For a young founder, that guidance was invaluable and helped me to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.”
Amino has raised more than $72 million since 2014. Marc Meyer, the co-director of Northeastern’s Center for Entrepreneurship Education, said that Amino has raised more venture capital than any other IDEA venture.
“Amino,” he said, “is highly innovative.”
Anderson said Amino does not make money. But he and co-founder Yin Wang are planning to build tools that would allow community curators to sell digital goods to users while taking a cut of the revenue for themselves.
“We’re really excited because we want to create a community for every interest in the world,” Anderson said. “We’re getting closer to that as times goes on.”