Former Tinder CEO’s Startup Meeno Raises $3.9 Million Seed Round
Meeno, a startup founded by former Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg, has secured a $3.9 million seed funding round led by Sequoia. The company aims to combat loneliness through an AI-powered chatbot and plans to release its app on the App Store in December.
In addition to Sequoia, Andrew Ng’s AI Fund and NEA also participated in the seed round. Meeno previously raised $1.1 million in a pre-seed round in April, bringing their total funding to $5 million. Several notable angel investors, including Megan Jones Bell (Clinical Director of Mental Health, Google) and Jim Lanzone (CEO of Yahoo), have backed the company.
Personal Mentor Instead of Virtual Companion
Unlike other AI chatbot companion startups like Replika and Blush, Meeno positions itself as a “personal mentor” rather than a virtual girlfriend or therapist. The company emphasizes that their chatbot, while adaptive and capable of learning from user interactions, is not intended to replace human relationships.
Better Advice Through User Feedback
According to Meeno, their chatbot improves over time by learning from users’ usage patterns. The app collects information about age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation during setup to ensure unbiased conversations. This feature sets Meeno apart from other chatbot apps.
Tackling Loneliness Among Gen Z Users
Nyborg, drawing from her experience at Tinder, recognized the loneliness experienced by young users, particularly those in the Gen Z age group (18-25 years old). Upon leaving Tinder, Nyborg explored potential solutions to address this issue and was introduced to large language models (LLMs) as a possible tech-based solution.
iOS Launch and Premium Offer
Meeno initially plans to launch on iOS due to its popularity among teens and the privacy tools offered by Apple. Users who sign up before January 31, 2024, will receive 12 months of Meeno premium for free.
Challenges and Safeguarding AI Chatbot Interactions
While AI chatbots have gained popularity among young users, there have been instances where inappropriate behavior occurred. Snap faced criticism for the actions of their My AI chatbot, leading the company to implement safety measures. As Meeno targets Gen Z, they may encounter similar challenges and must establish precautions to prevent any misconduct by their chatbot.