A startup called Waggle raised $2.3 million in seed funding to become the go-to destination foranimal lovers and pet parents online, and for sharing all the cute pups and madcap kitteh adventures they have to offer.
The New YorkCity-basedstartupwas incubated at Broadway Video Ventures, the venture armof theproduction company behindpremium comedy shows like 30 Rock, Portlandia and Saturday Night Live, among others.
Co-founder and CEOMatt Cavnar said, There was nothing out there community-driven around pets and animals. We think the bond people have with their pets, and peopleslove of animals is a strong emotional one. Yetnobodywas celebrating and promoting that.
To get its programming, Wagglecollectsuser-generated pet content from users of its mobile app and website.
It sifts out thegems from contributors, edits and adds a bit of production gloss to certain clips or images, then syndicates these as new media programming to the Waggle audience via multiple formats including an e-mail newsletter, website, mobile app, and Facebook account.
Among other gags, one of Waggles quirky e-mail newsletters is written humorously from the point of view of animals. And the startup regularly live streams shows via Facebook that feature French bulldogsdisco dancing, for example, or a parrot cooking.
The well-connected startup alsoforges partnerships to fuel itsdigital programming.Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Americas Funniest Home Videos, the San Francisco SPCA, and others have partnered with Waggle to syndicate their content online, which helped Waggle build its early audience.
OnFacebook, Wagglehas already aired at least1,000 hours of live streaming pet videos,and garnered more than 10 million viewssince its beta period began in September, Cavnar noted.
Eventually the startup hopes to help turn pets and their ownersinto micro- and mega-influencers online who can generate income from product placements, or content they provide toWaggle, or publish on their own, for example via an individual Instagram account.
Wagglehas 8 full-time employees now with half in San Francisco. It intends to use its capital for hiring, community and content development.
Raine was an early backer of digital media startups including Tastemade, Mobcrush, Maker Media, and Life on Air which created the influential but now defunct Meerkat live streaming app.