Former Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg has emerged from stealth mode with Meeno, a relationship mentoring app aimed at fostering social connections to combat loneliness. The San Francisco-based startup announced $5 million in seed funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from NEA and Andrew Ng's AI Fund.
In a blog post, Nyborg laid out the inspiration behind Meeno, citing statistics that half of U.S. adults suffer from loneliness, with the highest rates among young adults. She believes Meeno's mentoring app, which uses generative AI to provide personalized relationship advice, can help address this growing public health crisis.
Meeno is initially launching in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. Users who sign up by January 31, 2024 will be able to claim 12 months of free Meeno Premium as a gift.
Meeno goes beyond being a chatbot or virtual companion. It aims to understand a user's unique situation and relationships to offer tailored guidance on friendship, family, dating, and work connections.
While some may view using AI for social advice as counterintuitive, Nyborg believes technology can be part of the solution when designed thoughtfully. She cites research showing young people often first turn to apps and online tools when facing problems.
Meeno is focused on meeting users where they are, while still nudging them towards healthy relationship habits. Its playful interface aims to make the experience engaging.
Nyborg stresses Meeno has a bold vision to help one billion people master social connections. She admits this will be an immense challenge.
The app strives to improve its mentoring capabilities as more people use it. Meeno gathers demographic data to ensure its AI works equitably for diverse users.
Nyborg has assembled an experienced team across AI, mental health, and consumer mobile products. Key hires include Julia Ama as Head of Product, former PM at Tinder.
Meeno underscores its responsible approach to using generative AI. Nyborg intentionally chose backers like Sequoia's Roelof Botha and AI expert Andrew Ng who share its ethos.
The startup aims to avoid the pitfalls of public chatbot models by working with relationship experts to train its algorithms. It vows never to sell user data.
While risky, Nyborg believes AI holds promise to move the needle on loneliness when applied conscientiously. With its new funding, her startup aims to prove that potential. Tackling such an enormous issue will require a collaborative effort, but Meeno hopes to spark a movement focused on human connections.