Tokyo-based Timers, the startup behind social network app Pairy, announced today that it has raised $100 million yen (approximately $970,000) from four Japanese investment firms: Incubate Fund, Itochu Technology Ventures, East Ventures, and NTT Docomo Ventures. Pairy helps couples better communicate with each other, with functions like private photo sharing, chatting, and sharing.
This is the first funding for the company since its launch one and half years ago. They intend to use the funds to step up their engineering efforts. Our readers may recall that Pairy won the top award at Docomo incubator’s demo day, as well as the FSV Meetup 2013, a pitch event back in September hosted by Fuji Startup Ventures. As a result of these milestones, they surpassed 100,000 users in September, and now has secured this most recent funding. The company’s CEO Toshimasa Takahashi says:
Metrics like user activity rate and retention rate are pretty high on our app. We haven’t made massive efforts to promote it, but viral penetration has helped our growth. We expect to keep this up by improving the app to deliver a better user experience.
As a sort of closed social network service for couples, Pairy is forced to compete with other similar apps, and even messaging apps in general. Takahashi explained how his team hopes to differentiate from the others.
We can’t differentiate through marketing. Our focus is making the quality of our service extremely high. That will create a strong viral effect and help our user acquisition efforts. Marketing adds values to our product, but I think direct product improvement can really help speed user growth. We will keep differentiating by giving users a better experience.
There are many services out there like this that are intended for couples. But many of them have no difference in their functions. Some services will survive but others will disappear. Takahashi pointed out what he thinks will make the difference.
What’s most important is whether your app can make your users happier when they use it. Our approach may sometimes stray from the rules of usability, but we have been designing it always considering whether our app can make our users happier.
Pairy expects to introduce a multilingual version in English, Chinese, and Korean, as well as a new app for married couples early next year. They’re hoping to acquire a million users by next October in the Japanese market alone.