Leap2 adds Android app, raises $280K to rethink mobile search
Leap2, a Kansas City, Kan.-based startup that launched its iPhone app in November, released its Android app on Wednesday, bringing wider distribution to its new take on searching the web on mobile devices.
"You don't have to go to a page of search results any more," Mike Farmer (below), founder of Leap2, said in a phone interview on Saturday, "you can go direct to the website or the social page, whatever you want."
Leap2's Android release brings the app an updated design, increased speed and implemented voice-to-web technology,* which are enhancements that will soon be mirrored on its iPhone app following approval by Apple (though iPhone voice integration won't come right away).
Along with the app release, Leap2 had closed a $280,000 seed round of funding. Last July, Farmer raised $80,000 from friends and family and put up money himself to get the app off the ground. By year's end, he had brought in another $200,000 from some of the previous investors, three new investors and himself.
The new investors, all in the Kansas City area, include Thad Langford, founder of Zave Networks (acquired by Google in September) and a former Sprint executive; Aaron McKee, vice president at GroundTruth and former Infospace director and Sprint executive; and an un-named partner at OpenAir Equity Partners, a Kansas City venture capital and private equity firm solely focused on the wireless, communications and mobile internet sectors.
"(Leap2 has) just an absolute incredible group of investors," Farmer said, "who have been there and done that and are in the office all the time, rolling up their sleeves and getting involved."
Though it might look small, Leap2's biggest design update was to move its category wheel from the side to the middle of the app. The feature is core to the app, as it allows users to sort between different types of results, such as websites, social media accounts, maps and a category Farmer said has been a popular one amongst the app's nearly 3,000 users, the local category. The app's search results are primarily pulled from Microsoft Bing's API.
"iOS threw us a real curveball right before we released our product," Leap2 founder Mike Farmer said about his app's category wheel. "What they released with iOS 5 was incredible … but one of the big issues that we had was (when) people would pull down the wheel, they would pull down the iOS alerts."
In addition to Farmer, the Leap2 team is made up of two full-time and four part-time developer contractors, a majority of which are located in the Kansas City area.
Looking forward, Leap2, which Farmer now calls a "Search Browser," will be adding components to the app to bring in revenue, as it's currently free to download and has no advertisements or in-app purchases.
"With this new version, we're really at the point to go get the users," Farmer said, "I mean really go after users with spending a lot of money on marketing and consumer acquisition."
Here's a demo video of the new app on iPhone, a release that's expected to happen in the coming week.
Update 10:20: See Mike Farmer's note in comments about Leap2's voice-to-web technology.