Peanut, an app that started as a software for locating new mother buddies, has advanced right into a social community now utilized by 1.6 million ladies to debate a variety of subjects, from being pregnant and parenthood to marriage and menopause, and all the things in between. On the heels of great development in on-line networking fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the corporate is at the moment asserting the shut of a $12 million Collection A spherical of funding, led by EQT Ventures, a multi-stage VC agency that invests in corporations throughout Europe and the U.S.

Index Ventures and Feminine Founders Fund additionally participated, bringing Peanut’s whole increase up to now to $21.eight million.

The spherical itself closed simply weeks in the past — arriving at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the startup world, typically drying up enterprise capital for rising corporations. Some startups, because of this, have laid off workers to self-sustain, whereas others have sought exits and even folded.

Peanut, however, has seen speedy development for its platform as ladies seemed for a supportive on-line surroundings to debate their very own considerations over how COVID-19 was impacting their lives.

Many ladies collaborating in Peanut’s newer “Attempting to Conceive” group, for instance, nervous about their canceled IVF rounds and easy methods to plan for the longer term. Present moms-to-be needed to listen to from others about how COVID-19 would impression their hospital supply plans. And others caught working at residence with children seemed for recommendation and coping methods.

Because the outbreak, Peanut has seen engagement throughout its app improve by 30% and content material consumption improve by 40%. Its whole group additionally grew from 1 million customers in December 2019 to now 1.6 million, as of April.

“We’re actually fortunate in that we’re rising and that we’re, for essentially the most half, untouched by what’s taking place,” says Peanut founder and CEO Michelle Kennedy. “And truly, if anybody wanted group extra, it’s now,” she added.

Although the pandemic has despatched the app’s utilization skyrocketing, it has additionally readjusted Peanut’s priorities with regard to its roadmap.

Most notably, its friend-finding function wants a rethink.

Peanut initially labored as a type of “Tinder for mother buddies” — an concept that arose from Kennedy’s private expertise with how troublesome it was to forge feminine friendships after motherhood. As the previous deputy CEO at relationship app Badoo and an inaugural board member at Bumble, she introduced her intensive expertise in matchmaking apps to Peanut, which makes use of an analogous swipe-based mechanism.

However COVID-19 has up-ended this aspect of Peanut’s enterprise. Immediately, Peanut customers are assembly in Zoom chat rooms to hangout or play video games, however not in particular person.

Kennedy says the corporate will attempt to meet these customers the place they’re with the event of extra video networking options, probably with know-how constructed in-house. Different plans for the brand new capital embody enhancements to the social discovery points of its app, the event of an online model of Peanut, and the creation of extra teams past these centered on fertility and motherhood, which have up to now been core to the Peanut expertise.

Particularly, the corporate quickly plans to launch a brand new group centered on ladies dwelling with menopause, an expertise that may attain greater than a billion ladies by 2025. Even though all ladies with ovaries will undergo menopause, there are comparatively few on-line communities devoted to it — which Peanut sees as an untapped market.

Peanut’s actual power, nonetheless, isn’t within the varieties of communities it grows on its platform, however how they’re created.

There has not but been a social community that centered on “constructing a platform for ladies, fascinated by ladies’s wants and constructed by a ladies,” explains Kennedy. “So what we find yourself doing is utilizing issues that exist already — attempting to twist them and mildew them into what we’d like, and by no means getting it precisely proper,” she says. “We are able to do higher than that.”

One small instance of that is the latest launch of Peanut’s “Mute Key phrases” function that enables ladies to take away sure varieties of discussions from their feeds and notifications. Some ladies used this to create a coronavirus-free information feed that centered on different points of motherhood. Others who had been attempting to conceive muted conversations round “being pregnant,” which they discovered emotionally triggering.

With the Collection A’s shut, Peanut says Naza Metghalchi from EQT Ventures joins the corporate’s majority-female board, alongside Hannah Seal from present investor Index Ventures.

“Peanut’s person engagement metrics are a testomony to the app’s skill to behave as a real emotional companion all through ladies’s journeys,” mentioned Naza Metghalchi, enterprise lead and funding advisor at EQT Ventures, in a press release. “The EQT Ventures staff is happy to accomplice with Michelle and proceed to develop Peanut right into a platform that serves all ladies at completely different life milestones, exploring subjects past fertility and motherhood which have already seen such enormous traction.”

The extra funding permits London-based Peanut to develop its enterprise and rent extra engineers to hitch its present staff of simply 16.

“I believe having closed a spherical on this local weather is nice for the staff,” says Kennedy. “It’s additionally nice for the group as a result of it signifies that we are able to develop the staff, construct faster, construct sooner and develop the product extra shortly,” she provides.

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