Kevin Costner’s location-based audio storytelling app Autio raises $5.9M

Autio, a location-based audio leisure app co-founded through actor Kevin Costner and previously referred to as HearHere, has raised $5.9 million in a 2nd seed spherical with new phrases. The investment spherical used to be led through iHeartMedia. Autio makes use of GPS to relate tales of landmarks, towns and cities within sight with the purpose of fostering deep connections and understandings of the puts customers are touring via.

Based through CEO Woody Sears, Invoice Werlin and Costner, Autio first of all introduced as HearHere in August 2020 with simply 1,500 location-based tales. Autio now provides greater than 10,000 tales throughout all of the United States and has greater than 230,000 registered customers. Even if Autio is lately handiest to be had on iOS, the corporate is lately checking out an Android app in personal beta and plans to free up it to the general public quickly.

The tales, which vary from two to 4 mins in period, are designed to offer listeners informational tidbits about their atmosphere, together with sights they won’t have recognized about. One of the most tales are narrated through notable names, akin to Costner himself, in conjunction with actors John Lithgow and Phil Jackson. Loose accounts include 5 tales, whilst paid accounts value $36 in line with 12 months and include limitless get admission to.

As soon as customers allow location get admission to, they are able to discover within sight tales when touring. When now not touring, customers can nonetheless get admission to the map of the USA and to find content material to hear in keeping with their pursuits. Sears instructed TechCrunch that even if maximum of its customers pay attention to tales on highway journeys, many use the app on planes, whilst strolling or even touring just about from house. This used to be why the corporate rebranded, as Sears and the group believed that the identify “HearHere” used to be handiest being related to being attentive to a tale at its exact location, while the corporate sought after to refocus on audio for trip.

Symbol Credit: Autio

Sears says the brand new investment will cross towards increasing the app’s content material library, attaining new audiences and rising the startup’s group. The investment can be used to proceed increasing into further areas all through the USA.

“We’ll be launching undertaking integrations to floor our content material in new and engaging techniques,” Sears stated. “We even have extra community-focused options to inspire tale sharing and discovery rolling out over the process this 12 months. Moreover, we’re piloting new markets for global growth.”

The investment spherical incorporated participation from Stonks, Cooley Regulation, Blue 9 Capital, Seraph Staff, Eric Ries and Kern Project Staff. The prolonged seed spherical follows Autio’s $3.2 million seed funding introduced remaining 12 months, which got here a 12 months after the corporate’s $1.6 million pre-seed spherical in 2021. The newest spherical brings the overall amount of cash raised through Autio to $10.7 million.

Along with main the newest investment spherical, iHeartMedia may be launching a advertising and marketing partnership with the startup. Autio says the partnership will permit it to succeed in new audiences via iHeartMedia’s multiplatform audio community, which contains broadcast radio, podcast, virtual, social and are living occasions.

Symbol Credit: Autio

The investment announcement comes all the way through the similar month that Autio seemed on Shark Tank. The corporate says that even if Sears became down a $1 million funding be offering from Kevin O’Leary, the app did see an building up in downloads and subscribers right away following the displaying of the episode. Autio noticed its app downloads building up through 464%, new subscribers greater through 105% and web site visitors used to be up over 1,600%.

Autio additionally introduced its first in-flight integration with JetBlue previous this month, giving JetBlue shoppers get admission to to audio content material for 29 in their vacation spot towns in the USA by the use of their seatback monitors.

When it comes to the corporate’s plans for the longer term, Sears says Autio goes after a daring imaginative and prescient of turning into the worldwide platform for native tales.

“All of it begins with the facility of a unmarried tale to thrill a listener and fix them with a spot or individual,” Sears stated. “On an international scale, we envision hundreds of thousands of a majority of these connections made on a daily basis as customers get to discover the wider international round them via this very non-public medium.”

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