College app Blend raises $2.7 mln, Ohio State students need not apply

social network shutterstock_154875428

New Enterprise Associates has led a $2.7 million seed round in Blend, a San Francisco-based maker of a social networking app for college students. Trinity Ventures, Foundation Capital, Lerer Ventures, Maveron, BoxGroup, XG Ventures and SparkLabs Global Ventures also joined in the seed round. The app is available for students in more than 3,500 universities nationwide, except those from Ohio State University. Blend co-founder and CEO Akash Nigam attended the University of Michigan before dropping out and launching Blend. As such, the company doesn’t allow students from rival school Ohio State to sign up for the app.

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PRESS RELEASE

Blend Secures $2.7 Million Seed Round

Funds to be Used to Enhance Team and Grow New Social Network for Millennials

March 5, 2014 – San Francisco, CA – Blend, a new college-exclusive mobile app, announced today it has secured a $2.7 million seed funding round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), with additional participation from Trinity Ventures, Foundation Capital, Lerer Ventures, Maveron, BoxGroup, XG Ventures, and SparkLabs Global Ventures. The funding from this round will be used to triple the size of Blend’s team and transition the current beta product to a full-fledged social network.

“During our time at college, we saw a need and potential in the market for a new social network that understands today’s collegiate experience, with more exclusivity and additional perks, such as Blend Gifts” says Akash Nigam, CEO and co-founder of Blend. “Our focus in 2014 is to dramatically increase interactivity between our users and release two game-changing features, before pushing to additional communities.”

Blend, founded in 2013, is a social app available exclusively to college students. The model is “Share, Snap, Score” – students share photos based on the Blend theme of the day, earn Snaps or ‘likes’ on their photos from their peers, and use Snaps as “social currency” to score Blend Gifts, such as products and gift cards from popular brands. Blend is very selective and solely partners with trendy, college-relevant companies. Since October, Blend has partnered with over 200 brands. Some perennial favorites include Uber, Chegg, Rowdy Gentleman, Fraternity Collection, and Alex & Ani.

“We are excited to be a part of what we believe is indicative of the next trend in social media: highly curated, theme-based user generated content shared within a specific network” said Kittu Kolluri, General Partner at New Enterprise Associates. “The Blend team has already found a remarkable way to engage a highly sought after demographic—college students—and we are excited to see this journey evolve.”

“Facebook introduced the world to social networking, but it didn’t maintain its focus on its core base,” said Ajay Chopra, General Partner at Trinity Ventures. “Blend was similarly created by students to fill the significant gap between a first generation social network and what students demand today. Its singular focus is the college audience.”

Prior to this round, Blend received support from incubator Digital Catalyst Fund and is currently a five person team based in Silicon Valley. After launching its beta in late October at the University of Michigan, Blend has gained over 50,000 daily active users through word of mouth. Blend is available to all Universities within the United States, except for Ohio State.

About Blend
Founded in 2013 by Akash Nigam, Matt Geiger, and Evan Rosenbaum, Blend’s mission is to create the new way for millennial communities to interact and relate. It’s as simple as “Share, Snap, Score” – Share your college experiences to the theme of the day, earn Snaps (likes) on your photos from your peers, use Snaps to score Gifts (gift cards and product) from the hottest brands. Blend is currently available to over 3,500 universities. More information can be found at www.blend.la.

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