- 9count, a company that makes Gen Z-focused smartphone apps, launched in 2019.
- 9count was cofounded by former musical.ly president Alex Hofmann and startup founder Joe Viola.
- Read the 17-page pitch deck the founders used to raise a $6 million extended Series A in August.
For 9count cofounders Alex Hofmann and Joe Viola, gearing their startup toward Gen Z seemed like a no-brainer.
Months before they created 9count in 2019, a survey from health company Cigna found that Gen Z was the loneliest generation — more than half of those surveyed reported feeling “alone,” “isolated,” “left out,” or “that there is no one they can talk to” — despite ready access to internet-connected devices like smartphones and computers. The findings were somewhat surprising to Hofmann, the former president of musical.ly (now TikTok), and startup founder Viola.
But the duo also viewed them as a potential market opportunity.
“We wanted to build products that did a social good, brought people together, and realized that we wanted to focus on connecting Gen Z,” Viola told Insider. “We looked at loneliness as a problem that doesn’t necessarily have a one-size-fits-all solution, and as a result, we build products that kind of help people with loneliness in different aspects of their lives.”
9count’s first app out of the gate, Wink, is a mobile app that enables users to make friends virtually by finding and messaging one another using a recommendation system based around users’ interests. Another app, Summer, is marketed as a “no-swipe” dating app that presents multiple dating profiles at the same time. Meanwhile, Popstream, which is still in beta testing, helps creators host virtual meet-and-greets with their followers.
With five apps and counting, 9count is eager to grow. The Los Angeles startup recently raised another $6 million in capital from backers including GGV Capital Redpoint, Greycroft, and Signia, bringing 9count’s total funds raised to $27.5 million. That additional capital will go toward growing the startup’s headcount beyond the 35 or so employees employed currently, as well as product marketing to boost app traffic.
“With this new capital, we’re able to kind of double-down on a lot of the growth that we’re seeing across the board with our product … which is something we’re quite excited about,” Viola said. “But of course, strategic hires will be a part of that.”
Here’s the 17-page pitch deck 9count used to raise its $6 million extended Series A round: