Kevin Costner’s location-based audio storytelling app Autio raises $5.6M


Autio, a location-based audio leisure app co-founded by actor Kevin Costner and previously referred to as HearHere, has raised a $5.9 million seed extension led by iHeartMedia. The app makes use of GPS to inform tales primarily based on a consumer’s geographic location. Autio narrates tales of landmarks, cities and cities close by with the purpose of fostering deep connections and understandings of the locations customers are touring via.

Founded by CEO Woody Sears, Bill Werlin and Costner, Autio initially launched as HearHere in August 2020 with simply 1,500 location-based tales. Autio now gives greater than 10,000 tales throughout all the United States and has greater than 230,000 registered customers.

The tales, which vary from two to 4 minutes in size, are designed to provide listeners informational tidbits about their environment, together with factors of curiosity they may not have recognized about. Some of the tales are narrated by notable names, corresponding to Costner himself, together with actors John Lithgow and Phil Jackson. Free accounts include 5 tales, whereas paid accounts price $36 per 12 months and include limitless entry.

Once customers allow location entry, they will discover close by tales when touring. When not touring, customers can nonetheless entry the map of the United States and discover content material to hearken to primarily based on their pursuits. Sears advised TechCrunch that though a lot of its customers hearken to tales on street journeys, many use the app on planes, whereas strolling, and even touring nearly from dwelling. This was why the corporate rebranded, as Sears and the workforce believed that the identify “HearHere” was solely being related to listening to a narrative at its precise location, whereas the corporate needed to refocus on audio for journey.

Image Credits: Autio

Sears says the brand new funding will go towards increasing the app’s content material library, reaching new audiences and rising the startup’s workforce. The funding will even be used to proceed increasing into further areas all through the United States.

“We’ll be launching enterprise integrations to floor our content material in new and attention-grabbing methods,” Sears mentioned. “We even have extra community-focused options to encourage story sharing and discovery rolling out over the course of this 12 months. Additionally, we’re piloting new markets for worldwide growth.”

The funding spherical included participation from Stonks, Cooley Law, Blue 9 Capital, Seraph Group, Eric Ries and Kern Venture Group. The prolonged seed spherical follows Autio’s $3.2 million seed funding introduced final 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 whole amount of cash raised by Autio to $10.7 million.

In addition to main the newest funding spherical, iHeartMedia can also be launching a partnership with the startup. Autio says the partnership will permit it to succeed in new audiences via iHeartMedia’s multiplatform audio community, which incorporates broadcast radio, podcast, digital, social and dwell occasions.

Image Credits: Autio

The funding announcement comes throughout the identical month that Autio appeared on Shark Tank. The firm says that though Sears turned down a $1 million funding provide from Kevin O’Leary, the app did see a rise in downloads and subscribers instantly following the airing of the episode. Autio noticed its app downloads enhance by 464%, new subscribers elevated by 105% and web site site visitors was up over 1,600%.

Autio additionally introduced its first in-flight integration with JetBlue earlier this month, giving JetBlue clients entry to audio content material for 29 of their vacation spot cities within the United States by way of their seatback screens.

In phrases of the corporate’s plans for the long run, Sears says Autio goes after a daring imaginative and prescient of turning into the worldwide platform for native tales.

“It all begins with the ability of a single story to thrill a listener and join them with a spot or particular person,” Sears mentioned. “On a worldwide scale, we envision tens of millions of some of these connections made each day as customers get to discover the broader world round them via this very private medium.”