Kin is a private social network app for families built with a simple purpose: to bring families and loved ones together in the present, but also the past and the future. We created the app to provide an alternative to the predominant social media and messaging platforms that cater to hyper-connectivity and marketing – built for advertisers, not users. Kin on the other hand was built by families for families.
It’s a safe and private space where families are able to keep in touch, share memories, images and record future messages in a safe and secure closed group, without having to navigate newsfeeds, influencers or unwanted members. We designed Kin with privacy as a given not an extra because we know how important this is to people – and it’s important to us too.
With Kin, each family or friend group has access to its own shared space which is only accessible through an invitation from the designated group leader, a ‘KinPin’. This ensures that all the personal information, data and media are kept completely private – as they should be – and users can focus on what is truly important – connecting with each other.
We have a range of features including in-app messaging, storyline – which automatically preserves photos and memories in chronological order – and young persons’ accounts, so that younger family members can be part of Kin and gain control of their account when they’re old enough to. Importantly, we also have Memorial Accounts, which enables families to safely keep the memory of loved ones alive and part of their story.
Kin is also the only social platform that enables families to connect together in the future. Our Future Messages features are unique in allowing families to post messages to their loved ones that can be unlocked at a certain date in the future. In particular, this provides grandparents with a way to communicate with their grandchildren when they are older; keeping memories, personalities and family identities alive for generations.
We’ve had a great reception from investors who have also really identified with and understood our mission. We’ve raised $3.2 million in pre-launch funding – the highest private network raise in Europe ever at the time of launch – and the app is entering the market with a valuation of $25M.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
It’s a personal story, which is, as you can imagine, rooted in family. When my son Tristan was born (he is already 4 now – time has flown past!), I read a beautiful poem entitled ‘A Little Fellow That Follows You’, which is about fathers connecting and leading their children by example. This poem inspired me to start writing emails to my son for him to open and enjoy in the future – and for us to connect over the past, together, as we grow older.
However, as I began this process, I realised that it wasn’t the most seamless process – by the time Tristain was 18, he’d have hundreds of emails from me for different special occasions and would have to filter through them all himself. I wanted Tristan to be able to enjoy them without needing to put in loads of effort on his part. I ended up calling my co-founder Matt Blom, saying: there needs to be a better way of sending future messages to loved ones – no one out there is offering a solution.
That is how Kin was created, with the Future Messaging feature at its heart. Matt and I then developed the wider proposition for families and groups of people together as we built out the business. The more we delved into the industry and our business proposition, the clearer it became to us that there was a gap in the market for a social media space that connected families and friends but was safe, secure, private and did not contain ads or marketing content.
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How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
Matt and I founded the company in September 2019, so the idea of Kin and the business was developed before the coronavirus outbreak. However, the pandemic has certainly had an impact on our business, namely re-emphasising the need to connect with loved ones online in an easy and safe way.
Kin was created to help families of all shapes and sizes to connect with each other better. I believe this connection has become more important to families and loved ones than ever before, as we’ve lived through a pandemic where we have all been forced to remain separate from those closest to us. However, we are not a ‘COVID company’. The need and desire for this app was apparent before the global pandemic and the desire to connect with loved ones, share updates and preserve memories will continue after the easing of restrictions and the return to the new normal.
As well as this, from an internal perspective, the Kin team has all been working remotely, coming together online to officially launch the app in March of this year, during the third UK lockdown. As a startup, this innovative way of working has benefitted us – without a physical office and the like we’ve kept our overheads to a minimum able to invest our capital into the product.
What can we hope to see from Kin in the future?
Following our successful launch this year, our main focus is to continue to scale and grow Kin. We have ambitious growth plans that we are working toward – our strategy is for Kin to be available in 10 different languages, collectively covering 4.8bn people across the globe. We are aiming for the app to have 100m users by August 2022.
As I mentioned above, we recently completed the largest ever funding raise for a private network in Europe of $3.2M. We are using this investment to create a brilliant product and a seamless experience for our users. Our team is constantly innovating in order to improve Kin with every new version with new and better features – so watch this space for plenty of great updates. Kin is a place where people share the stuff that matters, so getting the in-app experience right is vitally important to us.