Moving to a new country is scary, complicated, and fraught, and immersing oneself in a strange culture adds layers of dissonance and complexity.
Homeis, a social network for immigrants, is aiming to tame that beast. On Tuesday, Homeis announced its $12 million Series A funding round led by Canaan Partners and Spark Capital. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Tim Armstrong, former CEO of AOL, also participated.
Homeis will use the fresh funding to expand its reach from the communities it currently serves, which are Israeli, French and Indian immigrants living in big U.S. cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Houston. Its next targets are U.S.-based Mexican and Latino communities.
The site seeks to smooth the immigration experience. Users get access to vetted community-created content, such as suggestions for lawyers and doctors with immigrant-specific specialties, as well as job and apartment listings. Users select where they’ve arrived and where they came from, and they can then connect with others in the network.
The app also features guides for managing one’s new life, such as how to get different kinds of visas, car insurance, understanding credit scores, opening a bank account and filing taxes as an immigrant.
“Empowering immigrants is a personal mission, one which we believe is timely and important,” Homeis co-founder and CEO Ran Harnevo, an Israeli immigrant, said in a statement. Harnevo previously founded the online video syndication platform 5min Media, in which Spark Capital also invested. After he sold the startup to AOL in 2010, he then pursued Homeis to create a company that “use[s] technology for a positive social cause.”
- Currently, immigrants primarily connect online through chat apps such as WeChat and WhatsApp and social media platforms like Facebook, or through language courses and in-person meetups with people of similar nationalities, according to an informal search of online message boards such as Quora and Reddit.
- Unlike Homeis, those avenues may be cumbersome to immigrants since they aren’t tailored to meet their needs. Homeis, which is ad-supported and free to users, provides a platform for all needs pertaining to adjustment to a new country, not just social.
- In 2017, there were around 44.4 million foreign-born people living in the United States, accounting for 13.6% of the entire country’s population, according to Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center projects that percentage to increase to 17.7% by 2065.
- As of 2017, over half (50.4%) of U.S. immigrants are of Latin American populations, according to the United States Census Bureau. Asian populations and European communities follow at 31.2% and 10.8%, respectively.
- Globally, the number of international immigrants is growing rapidly. The United Nations reported 258 million immigrants in 2017, up from 220 million in 2010 and 173 million in 200.
- Karma Take: As immigrant communities grow, opportunities to tailor globalized social media platforms to their needs are expanding as well.