Realtime Raises $4M Seed Round Led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six
This is me and my friend, Kevin and we’re the founders of Realtime. Today we’re announcing that we’ve closed a $4 million seed round. Alexis Ohanian’s new venture fund, Seven Seven Six, led the round. Other awesome investors include Sam Altman, Scott Heiferman, Nick Caldwell, Scott Belsky, Kevin Lin and some other dope people. See more Investors here.
Realtime is a fresh new place where you can just be yourself, speak your mind, and make new friends through fun pop-up video chats. That’s not how it started though.
Our company started as a way for people to connect with people in real life in ten minutes or less. Though we were able to get the app working on multiple college campuses (critical adoption & high retention) it didn’t matter because a global pandemic shut everything down…
We had no funding and neither of us wanted to remain in the Bay Area! Kevin and I would go to the mountains of South Carolina in hopes we’d create something dope…
Over the next several weeks I explored tons of products, joined a LatinX book club, and spent time Facetiming around 70 people just to talk through ideas… Seeing the founders, creatives, writers, and ideas take off and raise money during this time I just felt that was God saying “You ready Big Fella?”.
We debated creating a new mobile game (I used to do this in High School), a VR art app for Apple TV (we love the way art expands the mind), and a bunch of other ideas. In the end we decided to go back to what we were best suited to solve — to re-imagine the way people connect and interact with one another. Since we were creating an entirely new product we explored different names: WTR, Heaven, WAVY, and others. We ended up sticking with the name Realtime and decided that we were going to “Focus on the Fun.”
It’s worth noting that during the ideation period we began expressing ourselves in different mediums. I was also exploring music production, sampling, and rapping. Kevin was exploring physical architecture and re imagining spaces.
The world of Realtime is all about finding experiences that resonate with you in the moment. Discovery doesn’t have to be an aimless scroll or driven by an algorithm based on the people you follow. Realtime helps you discover topics and people to connect with based on your current vibe!
Most social networks were built to hit you with a trillion shots of dopamine by coercing you to increase whatever engagement metrics map to their business goals. We just want a space that encourages people to be fully present with one another and focused on the moment.
It’s the Authentic Social Layer for GenZ, Online and at some point Offline…
The journey has not been easy. We dropped out of college almost 2 years ago because we believed in the vision, we saw it’s magic IRL, and a path to grow. It didn’t matter because at the end of the day I’m a Black man that dropped out of UC Santa Cruz with no ties to Silicon Valley. Less than 1% of Black Founders raise funding. You think I was able to find another Vern to relate to?
It’s been mentally taxing and draining at points of the journey. Especially when I knew our company was 🔥 and many from all races were quite honestly giving shit advice and introductions… Shoutout to Marlon Stevenson and Ismail Maiyegun for always being there!
We were rejected by YC, 500, TechStars, NFX, Santa Cruz Accelerates, pretty much any incubator or accelerator you could think…. We just remembered there was a time when Kanye played Jesus Walks and couldn’t get signed, so we just kept working!
Crashing on couches, borrowing $50 for an Uber just to make it to the city, and getting my friends to cover my cover was not easy….
We recently finished alpha testing while raising this round. We are now releasing new invitations to those on the waitlist for its beta as we prepare for its public launch early next year. The initial seed investment will be used to build upon the existing team, and scale operations.
“People are craving human connection now more than ever and Vernon has identified a unique way to expedite today’s evolving need for interaction. His innovative approach to building hyper-personal online communities through instant, real-time video chatting made Realtime a compelling company to invest in,” said Alexis Ohanian, Founder of Seven Seven Six. “As someone who loves connecting on social media and discussing topics I’m passionate about, I’m excited Realtime makes online interactions more seamless and even more authentic.”
Stay tuned for REALTIME SZN 2021
BE THE MOMENT