With Facebook now the social media version of a nursing home, a rival London-based startup cofounded by expat Australian Jack Symonds, has bagged $4 million in Seed round.
The raise for Lounge, which is connecting the current generation of university students on in four countries, including Australia, was led by Square Peg with support from existing backer Carthona Capital, as well as private investors.
Sydney-raised Symonds moved to the UK in 2015 to study gaining first class honours in economics and management at Oxford. After a post-degree stint at Boston Consulting Group, he founded Lounge with Wulfie Bain in early 2022.
As a warm up for startup life, Symonds swam the English Channel in 2021, raising $277,000 for the Black Dog Institute and the Butterfly Foundation.
The premise for Lounge is bring young people together on the Lounge platform to organise groups and events, without irrelevant content. The duo also want to improve data privacy and mental health for Gen Z as an alternative to big tech like Meta.
Lounge lets users create and organise communities, host events, discover groups, and more. It doesn’t have a newsfeed, instead focussing on facilitating connection between real people and communities.
This investment is a significant milestone for the company and a testament to our vision for the future of community organisation.
Symonds said the business is built on the thesis that “the decline of Facebook among young people will leave behind whitespace”. Lounge is used on almost every major university campus in the UK and Ireland, with early usage in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. More than 250,000 people have used it in the 18 months since it launched.
The funding will be used to expand the team and for platform development.
Symonds said he was pleased to have the backing of an Australian VC that’s invested in the likes of Canva, Stripe, and Airwallex in Square Peg.
“There was an instant respect and cultural fit that has continued and improved since the first meeting,” he said.
“We were also incredibly fortunate to have Carthona Capital join us from day one. They have added value essentially every four weeks since we started, and they doubled down on their investment in the second round – you can’t ask for more”.
Dean Dorrell from Carthona Capital said: “Jack and Wulfie came to us with just an idea 18 months ago, and now they have a widely-used product in multiple countries. It’s been great to see the consistent progress.”
Square Peg’s Dan Krasnostein praised the concept and cofounders.
“The team is extremely high calibre, moving incredibly fast, and they are winning market share every day. Each call has significant updates – it’s really exciting,” he said.
Cofounder Wulfie Bain relished the thought of taking on social media giants.
“Most of our competitors are multi-billion dollar companies or oligopolies – so consumer standards for product are high,” he said.
“The team is really focused on improving the platform every day and strengthening our points of difference from our competitors. We’re lucky to have investors who have gone through this journey before and provide invaluable advice.”