The conventional wisdom for app makers has been that you start on iOS to make money and then move over to Android. But New York City-based fitness app maker Noom, one of Kleiner Perkins’ iFund companies, has stuck to Android and the results have paid off with Noom earning the top grossing spot for health apps with its Noom Weight Loss Coach.
The plan was to push out an iOS app by the holidays, but Noom backed off when it wasn’t able to hit the quality level it was looking for. Instead, the company is announcing Tuesday it has raised $2.6 million in additional seed funding as it looks to build out its team and nail its iOS strategy.
“Because we respect iOS, we know how rich it is, so when we go there, we want to provide a good impression,” said Noom’s CEO Saeju Jeong. “We believe the best strategy for marketing is having a quality product, but right now, it’s hard to match what we’re providing on the Android platform.”
The new pre-Series A funding comes from mobile-focused UK venture firm m8 Capital and Sangbeom Kim, co-founder of Korean game maker Nexon, and includes follow-on investments from Qualcomm Ventures and Harbor Pacific Capital. Jeong told he was looking to raise just enough money to get to a proper Series A while the company pushes out its first iOS apps in the first quarter of 2013. Noom previously raised $2 million from Kleiner and other investors.
Jeong said the company, previously named WorkSmart Labs, is already making good money with its $9.99 premium version of the app, which provides extra coaching and guidance for users. As I wrote about earlier, Noom’s secret has been to build an app for casual users that de-emphasizes data input and instead provides a lot of analytics and coaching lessons and tips. The company now has 15 million downloads of its apps, split mostly between Noom Weight Loss Coach and Cardio Trainer. It says it has helped its users collectively lose 19 million pounds since launching.
Jeong started the company with ex-Googler Artem Petakov, who founded the user-created maps project for Google Maps. The company is now up to 14 people, including four former Google workers, and just opened up an office in South Korea, where it also released a localized version of Noom Weight Loss Coach.
Jeong said his vision is to not just limit Noom to the app market, but ultimately break into other channels to potentially sell tangible goods or establish cross promotion deals.