955 Dreams has gotten plenty of praise for its stunning iOS apps, which present music albums and magazines as interactive multimedia applications. Now, the company is getting the love from investors, who are pouring in $3.25 million in a seed round for the small Mountain View, Calif. start-up.
The funding comes from 500 Startups, m8 Capital, Kapor Capital, Felicis Ventures, and CrunchFund, with 500 Startups’ Dave McClure joining the board. The company plans to use the money to put out more products, expand to other mobile operating systems and grow internationally. 955 Dreams is also taking its Band of the Day iPhone app and bringing it to the iPad.
I’ve been a fan of 955 Dreams because of its uncompromising attention to design, making apps that are built from the ground up to shine on mobile devices. The company is really re-imagining what publishing looks like in a tablet and smartphone era. And it’s creating optimism that digital magazines and interactive books can flourish when given the right treatment.
The secret for 955 Dreams has been the publishing platform it has used to build the History of Jazz and On the Way to Woodstock iPad apps and Band of the Day. All of the releases have been selected by Apple as App of the Week, and Jazz and Woodstock are in the iPad and iPhone Hall of Fame. Band of the Day was named iPhone App of the Year Runner Up by Apple.
Kiran Bellubbi, the founder and CEO of 955 Dreams told me the company was intent to just make a good app itself at first. But then they realized that the platform they created was capable of creating some stellar apps that are not only very fluid but also very lightweight. For 2012, Bellubbi said the company is looking to partner with one or two content companies, who will get access to 955 Dreams’ publishing platform to build their own products. He said they are looking at companies that can reach 10 to 20 million users, and are dedicated to putting out an uncompromising user experience.
“Our goal and vision is to enable users to get beautiful published content on a daily basis. The experience you have when you look at a magazine, the beautiful topography and layout that used to go into a magazine, it somehow got bastardized on the web. We want to build brands on the iPad that brings that back to publishing,” Bellubbi said.
Instead of a Flipboard approach, which he said creates a similar experience for reading all kinds of different content, Bellubbi said he wants 955 Dreams to help give rise to unique apps that reflect the styles and content of each brand.
Bellubbi said in addition to an eventual move to Android, 955 Dreams is also looking at ways to further monetize the platform. Right now, it charges a flat fee for each of its first two iPad apps while Band of the Day is free.
955 Dreams doesn’t appear to be in a big rush to go big or invite a lot of partners to use its platform so it may not get as much attention as some other solutions. But I’m hoping that people take note of what it’s doing. It’s pushing the boundaries of what publishing looks like on tablets and smartphones, and it’s making apps that are ultimately quite valuable to users, who have proven willing to shell out for what 955 offers.