Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
VCNC, the Korean company behind Between, has raised a round of 3 billion Korean won (approximately $2.8 million) to grow the international presence of the Path-like private service for couples. The company is placing particular focus on Japan.
Korean blog BeSuccess broke news of the investment; we’ve checked in with VCNC and it has confirmed the round. CEO Jaewook Park is said to have told the blog that the company will also expand its team of developers to bring new features and changes to Between — which was awarded ‘Best Mobile App’ at The Next Web Conference 2012.
The app is available for Android and iOS and it allows couple to share photos and messages through their phone. Between has racked up 2.35 million downloads to date, 1.6 million of which have come from Korea. A VCNC spokesman tells TNW that, of that user base, 900,000 were active in December 2012. Location-wise, 90 percent are based in Asia — 70 percent are in Korea, 10 percent in Japan — while less than 5 percent are in North America, and under 2 percent are in Europe.
VCNC’s immediate goal is to replicate its success in Korea in Japan. The spokesman tells us that the company expects to reach 1 million registered users in the country soon, and it will open a dedicated office there in February to help grow its presence.
The company has also introduced a sticker store for Between as it looks to make money through the sale of virtual items. That’s a business model that has worked well for a number of messaging services, including Line. Parent company Naver Japan saw $4.4 million of revenue within two months of launch of its sticker shop.
Between initially won attention as something unique when it launched in 2011, but that interest was tempered when Y Combinator-backed Pair arrived on the scene in March 2012. The US app saw 1 million messages shared on its platform within just 4 days of launch, and it won investment from Path founder Dave Morin, SV Angel and Crunchfund, among others.
These two are the only couple of services for couples, Avocado was started by ex-Googlers, while there’s also Cupple. Equally private social networks like 23snaps and Everyme cater for select groups, which could range from friends and extended families, to couples.
Despite the plethora of services, interest in couple social networks appeared to quieten down in recent months. That makes this investment deal and Between’s focus on international growth particularly interesting.
The fresh capital has been provided by four Korean investors. Stonebridge Capital and KTB Network have each put in 1 billion won (circa $940,000), while Capstone Partners and Softbank Ventures Korea have invested sums of 500 million won ($470,000) each.
Note: This post has been updated after previously listing an incorrect number of total downloads for the app.
Related: Between: A social network just for you and your significant other
Headline image via Thinkstock; hap tip @techinasia
Disclosure: This article contains an affiliate link. While we only ever write about products we think deserve to be on the pages of our site, The Next Web may earn a small commission if you click through and buy the product in question. For more information, please see our Terms of Service.
Get the TNW newsletter
Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.