AmpMe Raises $10 Million to Turn Your Smartphones into Speakers

Music-syncing app AmpMe has raised an US$8 million Series A investment round, the company announced on May 26.

The investment, worth almost CAD$10.5 million, will help AmpMe continue to work on the app, which allows users to play the sync music across multiple phones in order to amplify the sound, says Martin-Luc Archambault, the company’s founder and CEO.

“It’s going to allow us to keep growing the product,” he says.

By raising money, the AmpMe team can focus on building the app, rather than worrying about monetizing it.  

“Now we have more runway,” he says.

Archambault who is serial entrepreneur, investor and one the “dragons” on the Dans l’oeil du dragon, the Quebec version of Dragon’s Den, says that building a successful consumer app isn’t cheap. That’s why raising a bigger Series A was important, he says.

The new investments bring the total amount raised by AmpMe to US$10 million or over CAD$13 million.

The company is also adding YouTube integration to the app, allowing user to sync videos – particularly music videos – on the site.

He says the idea is to “let people play the music they want.” While a use might not have the new Drake song in their library, for instance, “on YouTube, it’s there,” he says.

It’s also particularly important: YouTube is the most popular source of streaming music online, accounting for an estimated 40 per cent of all music consumed online.

So far, AmpMe has been downloaded over two million times and most of that growth has been organic, Archambault says.

There is an intent viability to AmpMe, he says. After all, it has to be used with other people.

“It’s absolutely useless if you’re alone,” Archambault says.

While that can help to drive growth, the average AmpMe user uses it to sync music with at least two other people, Archambault says he knows that releasing an app that can’t be used by individuals is a bit of a risk.

The investment round was led by Relay Ventures, based in Toronto and Menlo Park, and had participation from Investissement Québec, Slaight Music, OMERS Ventures, Townsgate Media, Anges Québec Capital and Real Ventures.
While there are a number of Montreal-based investors on the list, Archambault he’s pleased with the high level of involvement by investors from outside of Montreal.

New features are in the works for the app – including karaoke and the ability to take and mashup videos but Archambault says he doesn’t want to get distracted, the focus remains on syncing music.

AmpMe Rolls Out New Features Following 1.5 Million Downloads in Five Months

Martin-Luc Archambault says building a successful app is all about making it as seamless as possible.

“Every time you as a user to do something you lose 50 per cent of them, even just clicking on a button, even if the button is as big as your screen, you’re going to lose 30 to 50 per cent of those people, so if you can remove every step in the flow and get users to a wow moment faster, then you have way more chance of succeeding,” he says.

Archambault is the founder and CEO of AmpMe, an app that allows users to play music on multiple phones to amplify the sound. He’s also a serial entrepreneur, investor and is one the “dragons” on the Dans l’oeil du dragon, the Quebec version of Dragon’s Den.

“One of the things that you absolutely have to do, or otherwise you’re going to fail, is to move fast and adapt. And in order to do that, you have to look at your metrics, you have to look at your funnel,” he says.

With 1.5 million downloads in the past five months, Archambault had a lot of data to work with.

For AmpMe, the biggest challenge had been synchronizing music playback on multiple phones.

The time between when the play button on a phone is pressed and when the music starts can vary between different phone models, the amount or ram a phone has or even how many apps are open. That creates a lag, or offset that makes it hard to synchronize playback between multiple devices.

“We were using a technology that basically adds audio fingerprints to the stream and were using the phone’s microphone to hear what the other phone is playing and to be able to correct the offset,” he says. “In the new version that we’re doing, we are completely removing this step because on this step we’re losing 30 to 40 per cent of our users.”

The new version of AmpMe syncs phones automatically.

“The new technology, basically, predicts what the lag is going to be on your phone,” he says.

It’s able to do that with 95 per cent accuracy, Archambault says. For the other five per cent, there’s now a way to adjust playback manually.

The new version of the app also makes it easier to connect to other phones.

Before, a user would set up a “party” on the app and other users would join it by entering a code. In the new version, users are able to join a “party” based on their location.

“We’re removing all of the steps, all of the clicks are completely removed,” he says.

The update also includes a offline mode.

“If you’re in the middle of the jungle, on the North Pole or anywhere where you don’t have an internet connection, it’s still going to work with your music library,” Archambault says.

He says the decision to come out with an offline mode was motivated by high user adoption in places like Brazil and India, where access to good internet connections is more limited.

Archambault says he’s still got big plans for AmpMe. He doesn’t plan to monetize the app until it reaches 50 million users. Social features are also in the works for AmpMe, like the ability to vote on what song should be played next.

“I’d like to create a big consumer app success in Canada, most of the big consumer app successes we’ve seen are in the U.S. and I think it’s time that we see a good one in Canada,” Archambault says. “I think we have the potential with AmpMe, it’s just about execution.”