After surpassing the five million download mark in December, South Korean firm behind couple app Between, VCNC (which stands for Value Creators & Company) today announced that it has received an undisclosed amount from Japanese mobile and e-commerce portal DeNA.
According to an official statement, the investment will be used to “grow Between into an open platform and later support the opportunities to monetise Between”.
Isao Moriyasu, President and CEO, DeNA said, “Purpose-specific social networks like Between are rapidly gaining popularity worldwide, following the massive adoption of general social networks and communication tools. DeNA sees a great global potential in this highly sophisticated mobile internet service.”
Founded in 2011, VCNC claims that it has seen the amount of time a user spend on Between rise from 300 minutes a month in 2013 to 510 minutes a month this year. Jaeuk Park, CEO, VCNC said, “I think our new metrics reflect that our new features and rebranding has helped us deliver our value to couples and also positioned us better to the global audience.”
VCNC Co-founder Edward Lee also told e27 that the company has plans to “create great synergy with the variety of businesses that DeNA holds”, which includes the Japanese company’s strengths in e-commerce, gaming, content, travel and other internet services. He added, “As for which business we will be venturing into, we haven’t made any decisions yet. However, we do believe we can receive support with growth in Japan (our second biggest market) and help on how Between should monetise in the future.”
He further explained that Between is not just an app, but a platform where third party services can chip in to help add value to the experience. With current channels ‘Event Box’ and ‘More Tab’, the right partners are able to market and reach out to Between users. This can also be seen in its partnerships with dining guide platforms OpenRice, Burpple, and Wongnai, and e-commerce website Tarad in Southeast Asia.
At the moment, Between is monetising through its sales of stickers which can be used for instant messaging purposes and advertising through Event Box. Lee added, “We will continue to find and test with businesses and we later plan to build APIs for businesses who can help us fulfill couples’ needs.”
With a team of 26 full-timers, Lee shared that they are hoping to find new members to “keep the momentum” in Thailand and Taiwan. At the moment, South Korea still accounts for 60 per cent of the app’s user base, followed by 12 per cent in Japan, eight per cent in China, seven per cent in Southeast Asia, four per cent in US and Taiwan, and five per cent in remaining markets.
“Growing in local markets is still a challenge for Between,” said Lee, who made a comment a year ago that going local is something the company is still trying to cope with, adding, “However, we have grown more than twice since I’ve said that, and during that time, our team was able to develop insight on how to grow in new regions.”