With many events capped at a certain attendance number to allow for social distancing, it’s more difficult to celebrate and connect. IRL (In Real Life) is out to change that.
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The San Francisco-based startup raised a $16 million Series B round of funding to further develop its free social calendar and event discovery platform that brings people together over shared experiences.
Goodwater Capital led the round with participation from Founders Fund, Floodgate and Raine. The new financing gives IRL a total of $28 million raised since the company was founded in 2017. That includes an $8 million Series A round from 2019 that was also led by Goodwater, according to Crunchbase data.
The new funding will be used to build out IRL’s web product and expand the platform internationally. The platform’s first version came out in June 2019, and has grown 10 times since, Abraham Shafi, founder and CEO, told Crunchbase News.
“The most important thing we are tracking is time spent on the app because that not only shows usage and revenue drive, but for us it is time together,” Shafi said.
Shafi studied cultural anthropology and sociology in school, learning how deep the calendar is to our culture. While digital calendars reflect what is already going on, he said no one had created a social calendar that linked people and things. For example, if there is empty time on the calendar, IRL will curate events from places such as Ticketmaster, YouTube and Twitch, and recommend events going on locally.
Since its launch, IRL has logged 300 million hours of “Time Together” and is now seeing 1 million hours each day in Time Together. It has also achieved the top calendar app spot in the Apple App Store in the past six months.
“I’m proud of those stats,” Shafi added. “We are creating this social network calendar and making it a multidimensional product that connects with people.”
In addition to the funding announcement, IRL launched new features including its college network to help students follow activities and organize events with friends. The network started with 100 colleges and universities across North America, including USC, Harvard, Columbia and NYU. Students registered with a verified school email address are granted access to the virtual campus calendar with events for every major, club or interest.
Meanwhile, IRL has a new “Groups” feature for all users, allowing friends to create specific groups to share, discuss and RSVP to events together.
An increasing variety of brands, including TikTok, SoundCloud and HBO have partnered with IRL to expand their own outreach and awareness around events, programs and premieres.
“IRL has been an amazing platform for us to engage with more of our audience and meet new potential users,” said Jenny Zhu, head of integrated marketing U.S. at TikTok. “The Weeknd Experience: TikTok Live was our first virtual concert experience and we added the event on IRL to grow visibility. IRL was seamless to work with and successfully helped us gauge early interest with 52K RSVPs and 1.1M followers on our profile in the week leading up to the concert. We see major traffic coming from IRL and are excited to continue our partnership!”
Illustration: Dom Guzman