The app economy boom had to end sometime. But does the slow-down really signify its demise? International Data Corporation (IDC) research revealed that the slowdown in mobile app installs and direct revenue, may be a sign of market maturation.
The number of users connected to the App Store is at an all-time high but competition is fierce. Google Play features 2.4 million available apps. Yet, we spend 80% of our app time in only three apps, according to a comScore report. This makes it very challenging to get your app noticed. In response to market saturation and app publisher complaints, this year, Apple and Google both announced updates to their app stores to help developers increase app visibility and revenue.
The app economy may be levelling out but some say it’s shifting. Analytics provider App Annie predicts that the emerging markets will now drive growth in the global app economy. App store revenue from emerging markets is expected to soar by 29% a year. Brazil, Indonesia and India (which has one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world) are the ones to watch.
So how are these changes reflected in app funding deals this quarter? And which sectors show the greatest potential for growth? We’ve put together a list of app startups that got funded in Q4 2016 and delved into the data:
Funding into artificial intelligence (AI) startups reached a new quarterly high this year. And the upward swing looks set to continue into 2017. Meanwhile, our list of recent app funding deals below shows that restaurant and food apps scored the largest number of funding deals this quarter, across Asia, the US and the Middle East; with 60% of those deals going to restaurant dining apps.
Health apps saw a healthy injection of investment in Q4 covering the US, India and global markets. That’s despite recent reports that mHealth app demand isn’t keeping up with supply. mHealth app releases increased by 58% in 2016, compared with a 7% rise in download numbers, according to Rearch2Guidance findings.
Based on our funding deals list, retail and commerce apps were the third most popular investment. The majority of funding reached emerging markets including India, UAE and Indonesia. The largest investment amount went to Grab, Uber’s biggest rival in Southeast Asia. Its whopping $750 million of new funding includes a deal with Japan’s Honda Motor Co to collaborate on motorbike hailing services. You can check out the individual funding deals below.
Q4 App funding deals by sector:
- Restaurants, food and drink
- Retail and commerce
- Financial services and payments
- Social and messaging
- Sports and fitness
Restaurants, Food and Drink
Gourmet food app and marketplace Hungry raised $2.7 million in a seed round led by Timeless Capital and investor Bob Hisaoka. Hungry currently connects professional chefs with foodies in the Washington DC area and the startup has its sights set on New York next year.
Drinks discovery app Hipcask is gearing up for expansion after raising fresh funding. Existing investor Mobikon and several angel investors (including Sandipan Chattopadhay and Surojit Niyogi) poured an undisclosed amount into the India-based company this quarter.
Middle Eastern online marketplace SOUQ.com invested an undisclosed amount into Dubai-based grocery ordering app InstaShop, in return for a “significant stake” in the company. Users can access their local supermarket through the app and have their groceries delivered in under one hour.
Eat, an app that allows diners across Dubai and Bahrain to discover gourmet restaurants and make reservations has snapped up $2 million of post-seed funding. The round was led by Bahrain-based investment fund Pinnacle. Eat is now eyeing new markets in the Middle East and beyond.
Members-only cocktail and nightlife app Hooch got a strong vote of confidence from the VC community by raising $1.5 million of investment. The funding round, led by Blue Scorpion Investments, will continue the brand’s expansion.
Restaurant discovery and review app Wine n Dine scooped $2.5 million in seed funding from Melo7 Tech Partners, Jordache Ventures and The Chetrit Group. Having officially launched on all iOS devices, the New York-based app already covers 70,000 restaurants in more than 6,000 countries.
Thailand’s restaurant booking app Eatigo raised Series B funding from Tripadvisor, bringing its total to $15.5 million. Eatigo, which specialises in off-peak bookings at discounted prices, will use the money to launch in new markets across Southeast Asia.
Restaurant dining app Allset pocketed $2.35 million in seed funding, in a round led by Metamorphic Ventures. The San Francisco-based app allows users to book, order and pay for their lunch at restaurants before arriving. The company plans to expand into Los Angeles and Chicago.
Malaysian-based restaurant app Offpeak raised a fresh batch of funding (undisclosed amount). The round, led by YJ Capital, included support from existing investors Gobi Partners. Offpeak will invest in product enhancement and customer acquisition, and expand across Southeast Asia.
Restaurant discovery and reservation app Velocity secured $22.5 million in Series B funding. The round was led by DIG Investments with participation from high profile investors including Barry Sternlicht, the founder of Starwood Hotels Group. London-based Velocity plans to expand to 29 cities worldwide by 2020.
App Development Companies
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Clue, the fertility and period tracking app secured $20 million of funding in a Series B round led by Nokia Growth Partners. The funds will be used to expand its Berlin-based team and accelerate growth in the US, the app’s primary market.
Medication management app Echo aims to take the hassle out of ordering repeat prescriptions and is available to all NHS providers. Having launched the app in November, London-based Echo is backed by its recent £1.8 million seed round led by LocalGlobe, with support from Global Founders Capital.
Mom.life the mums chat and pregnancy tracker app has raised an extension to its seed round bringing total funding to $1.5 million. The investment, led by AltalR Capital and QD Ventures, will be used for product innovation and US market growth.
Health technology company, PeerWell raised $2.1 million seed funding for its healthcare app PreHab, in a round led by XSeed Capital. The surgery preparation app provides patients with customised daily lessons to improve the results of surgery and speed up recovery. Currently focused on hip and knee replacement patients, funding will go towards developing PreHab programmes for other major procedures.
Fortune 500 company Reinsurance Group of America invested more than $4 million in Roadtohealth, makers of the award-winning digital health coach app Quealth. The app has been downloaded in more than 145 countries and this first stage investment will help accelerate its global growth.
In August, Sydney-based startup CancerAid launched its cancer treatment app and announced it had secured 17 new deals with cancer institutions. Two months later, CancerAid closed a $1.25 million Series B funding round led by Clinton Capital Partners which has valued the startup at $4.25 million.
India-based medical app Daily Round received fresh funding, of an undisclosed amount, this quarter. The round, led by Accel Partners, includes support from existing backers Powerhouse Ventures, Beenext and Asuka Holding. The startup plans to expand its user base, 70% of which are in India.
Retail and Commerce
Indian location-based shopping app ShopsUp officially launched and bagged $1 million in seed funding this quarter. Anand Sankeshwar (Managing Director at VRL Logistics) and Yang Shu (CEO of Taojinjia) invested in the startup and will both mentor the team.
Dubai-based online marketplace Mini Exchange plans to launch a new app after raising $3 million of funding. According Mini Exchange, the round was oversubscribed and included new investment from the Middle East and Africa. The company will launch an app in English and Arabic and expand into new markets.
Fashion discovery app Wooplr raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Astarc Ventures, the investment arm of Mumbai-based Astarc Group. Already boasting a user base of over three million women, Wooplr aims to reach 100 million female users in India by 2020.
OfferUp, the largest mobile marketplace in the US secured $119 million of funding in a round led by Warburg Pincus. The Craiglist and eBay rival currently operates in the US and will use the capital to expand into new markets.
Indonesian fashion and beauty app LYKE allows users to follow their favourite brands and receive notifications and discounts. It raised $4 million in a Series A funding round led by German venture capital firm Holtzbrinck Ventures. LYKE app reached one million downloads, just six months after launch.
Sneaker reselling app GOAT raised $5 million in funding to drive its global expansion. The investment round was led by Matrix Partners with support from GOAT’s existing investors Webb Investment Network and Upfront Ventures. This brings the app startup’s funding total to $12. 6 million.
Financial Services and Payments
Fintech startup Active.ai raised $3 million in funding from IDG Ventures India and Kalaari Capital to expand its clientele. Singapore-based Active.ai develops AI-powered virtual assistants/chatbots for financial service institutions and banks. It has already partnered with Axis Bank, India’s third largest private bank.
Albert, a personal finance app that provides free financial advice launched in summer 2016. The startup raised $2.5 million in seed funding from investors including Bessemer Ventures Partners, CFSI (Center for Financial Services Innovation), 500 Startups, and 500 Fintech. Currently available on iOS, an Android version is coming soon.
Loot, a money management and banking app aimed at millennials, raised an additional £2.5 million from investors including Speedinvest. This comes just five months after closing its £1.5 million Series A funding round, bringing the total raised to £4 million.
FlyPay, the mobile payments app for the restaurant industry, secured £3.5 million of investment from online food delivery company Just Eat. The new funds will be injected into FlyPay’s new Flyt platform which allows restaurants, bars and pubs to integrate services like bookings, delivery and reviews technology.
Global payments startup Remitware Payments, which launched cross-border payments Platform Remitr, raised $1 million in seed funding this quarter. The investors include well-known startup founders Pravin Gandhi (founder of Seedfund), Vijay Shekhar Sharma (founder of Paytm), and FreeCharge’s Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon.
Social and Messaging
Instant messaging app Jongla raised €5 million to fund future product features, which could include bots and artificial intelligence. The Series B round included participation from ten different investors keen to see Jongla scale its business globally.
Winnie, the social networking app for parents, saw over $2.25 million added to its funding pot this quarter. The round was led by Homebrew with support from BBG Ventures, Ludlow Ventures and more. Winnie is currently available on iOS, with an Android version coming soon.
Location-sharing app Zenly attracted $22.5 million of investment to fund a new San Francisco office and expand its global reach. The Series B round was led by US venture capital firm Benchmark, with Jerry Murdock, Xavier Niel and Idinvest also participating.
Nattr, an app that crowdsources clever responses to texts, has raised more than £100,000 through a crowd-funding campaign on Seedrs. The London-based startup aims to acquire one million users in the coming year. Having proven itself in the texting/dating vertical, Nattr plans to expand into fashion.
China’s Huajiao live video app closed a $45 million Series A funding round. Led by China state-owed entity Zhongshoujian, the round includes participation from Qihoo 360. According to independent research, Huajiao is now the seventh most popular live streaming app in China.
Sports and Fitness
Handstand, the worksouts on demand app has formed a partnership with Reebok and raised a $1 million investment. The funding comes from Reebok, startup studio Science and a group of angel investors. After significant growth in LA, the business will expand into new markets including New York and Boston.
Sportido, an app that connects sports and fitness fans with other players, venues and events, has bagged an undisclosed amount of funding from Sumpoorna Group. Currently active in Delhi (NCR), the company plans to expand to Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad by the end of 2017.
Sports fan app Spontly exceeded its £200,000 funding goal this quarter on crowdfunding website Seedrs. Designed to keep sports fans up-to-date with their favourite clubs, Spontly aims to build the largest network of sports fans in the world.
Rooter is a live sports and social gaming app based in India. This quarter, the startup completed its funding round (undisclosed amount) led by Bollywood star Boman Irani. Rooter will use the money to bolster its technology team to make the app even better.
Once app is based on a ‘slow dating’ approach, limiting users to one carefully selected match per day. Launched in France last year, the app has attracted over two million users. Once raised $5.5 million in a Series A round, including investment from VC firm Partech Ventures, to expand into global markets.
Hornet, a gay dating app and social network raised $8 million in a Series A funding round led by Ventech China. This follows the startup’s recent acquisition and integration of Vespa, a leading gay city guide. The new funding will support its global expansion plans.
East Meets East is a New York-based website and dating app for the Asian population in English speaking countries. This quarter, the startup closed a $1 million funding round with investment from 500 Startups, DeNA, East Ventures, iSGS Investment Works and Shintaro Yamada (CEO of Japan’s Mercari).
Asia-focused dating and social networking app Paktor closed a £32.5 million funding round, bringing its total to a whopping $57.5 million. The latest round, co-led by K2Global and MNC Media Group, will fund Paktor’s ambition to expand into the social entertainment space.
Job Today, an app that helps users discover hospitality and retail jobs, secured $20 million of funding to fuel expansion in the EU and UK. The round, led by Flint Capital, included participation from existing investors Accel Partners, Mangrove Capital, and Felix Capital, along with Astremedia, Channel 4 and German Media Pool VC.
Nodd, a professional networking app based in India is set to scale up its operations thanks to new angel funding. The company raised $147,000 from a total of 11 investors and plans to expand across New Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Chennai.
Driving education app, Aceable raised $4 million to accelerate its growth into new markets. Silverton Partners and Floodgate co-led the Series A funding round. The Texas-based app ranks as one of the highest grossing in the App Store and Google Play education category.
Investors poured $50 million of fresh funding into BYJU, India’s largest education technology company to expand its learning app internationally. The investment was co-led by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Sequoia Capital, and quickly follows the $75 million funding round BYJU closed in March.
Grab, Uber’s largest rival in Southeast Asia, raised a cool $750 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Group. An undisclosed amount of investment from Japan’s Honda formed part of the deal. The app offers private car, motorbike, taxi, and carpooling services in 31 cities. Grab has nearly quadrupled its total number of drivers to over 400,000, in the past year, and has set its sights on Indonesia.
Egypt’s first ride-hailing app Ousta secured a bridge investment of $1.2 million to drive expansion. The funding comes from experienced angels and venture capitalists in Egypt and the UAE in exchange for a minority stake in the business.
Dubai-based Voice recording app WrappUp raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding. The round was led by BECO Capital, a venture capital firm focused on tech investments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). WrappUp uses intelligent voice recording to make speech searchable and the app is currently in Beta.
Accompany app acts as a virtual chief of staff by intelligently managing your professional network and relationships. It picked up $20 million of fresh funding from venture capital firm Ignition Partners and Charles River Ventures. Accompany will use the capital to develop its product and expand its team in California and Oregon.
NewsDistill, an app that aggregates news from a variety of sources, raised $100,000 in a seed funding round. India-based NewsDistill received support from a group of investors including Ganesh Narasimhan, Ramana Thumu and Sudhir Mallem, as it looks to become the top news aggregator in India.
London-based event ticketing app DICE closed a $6 million Series A funding round, led by Evolution Equity Partners. Lumia Capital, DICE’s existing investors and several music industry angel investors also contributed. DICE will use the funds to expand across Europe and North America.
Fluid, a community sharing app, secured a total of $1.7 million seed funding from Grotech Ventures, Correlation Ventures, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and several angel investors. The company, which helps people to rent items to and from their neighbours, will use the money to fuel its ambitious growth plans.
Bumpers, an app that lets people create and discover podcasts, bagged $1 million in seed funding this quarter. The app attracted investment from Capital Spark, Founders Collective and strategic angels including Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter. Bumpers will continue to innovate on its app.
Mobile check-in app Openkey secured $8 million of funding as it prepares to launch in hotels internationally. The Series A funding round, led by the Ashford Group of Companies, supports the company’s goal to expand its team and deploy OpenKey technology to more than 30,000 hotel rooms by the end of 2017.
HomeMe is the first property app on mobile to pre-approve renters for apartments. The US startup raised $3.2 million in a seed funding round led by Menlo Ventures. 2M Companies and other leading technology investors joined the round.
Azoomee, a safety app for primary-aged children, raised nearly £800,000 through its equity crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. The app lets children watch videos, play games, listen to audio and send parent-approved messages in one place. Azoomee is a strategic partner of the NSPCC and will use the funds to license more content and grow its subscriber base and expand internationally.
Whether the mobile app bubble has burst or not, app download growth is clearly slowing in developed markets. Investors may be cautious but our data shows that funding was particularly strong in the restaurant, health and commerce sectors this quarter, along with a growing interest in Asia-based app startups.