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Wheelings & Dealings: Dasher Joins Messaging Apps Fray With $840,000 Funding Round

June 12, 2015

Not long ago, we realized the over-the-top (OTT) messaging market was gaining ground, to the point where it was starting to hamper operations for mobile network operators that were poised to lose ground in voice and SMS messaging. The OTT messaging market has now added a new competitor to its ranks in the form of Dasher, which recently landed a $840,000 funding round.

The newest funding round was joined in by several major venture capital firms, including Accel Partners, Betaworks, and Greycroft. And this wasn't Dasher's first trip to the well, so to speak; the company has done some fundraising before, and is now valued at around $2 million thanks to this newest infusion.

Reports suggest that the Dasher app's focus is on delivering features. Dasher can share locations with other chatters, and even offer maps relevant to the area to share. Sending GIF files and other photos works well here, and there's even an ability to send simple polls in the form of yes-or-no formats with other chatters, great for those times when a user might be considering a new bar or restaurant or the like. Dasher has even gone so far as to team up with Venmo for providing a peer-to-peer payments system. That feature has been in beta, according to reports, for months ahead of Facebook's plan to do something similar.

Dasher's keeping mum so far in terms of how many users it actually has, but reports suggest that 70 percent of its users “remain highly engaged” for at least a month after, suggesting the company may be going for quality over quantity.

Kamran Ansari, formerly a partner at Greycroft who now runs mergers and acquisitions for Pinterest, noted that it's really impossible to tell just which app will be popular, but Dasher has something of an edge for the smaller group. College campuses and even workplaces will be able to appreciate the smaller focus, and Dasher represents one of the best experiences Ansari has ever seen, reportedly, in group texting. Reports suggest that Dasher will focus its marketing on college campuses, and use that new cash to do so.

In a sense, that's actually a good idea. College campuses are well-known for small, tight-knit circles of friends, and if Dasher can make its presence sufficiently known that college kids start picking this up in wide numbers, that's a great start for Dasher. What's more, college students often become business leaders, and can therefore take the Dasher experience into the workplace, potentially making it the next big business tool of an increasingly mobile workforce. That would be a welcome move for Dasher as well. However, it's a plan that depends on quite a bit happening in just the right way; if Dasher doesn’t catch a lot of college students' attention,  the whole thing would likely fall apart. But then that may be why Dasher's only has about $2 million to its fundraising credit so far.

The OTT messaging market has a lot of competition in it already, and any newcomer has an uphill battle from the moment it walks onto the field. But Dasher may have the features it needs to be a worthwhile proposition, and with the right marketing behind it, it could ultimately catch on.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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