Panion social app fights loneliness in Sweden
|Freeman Lightner in Apps Tuesday, December 17, 2019|
On the surface, Melanie Aronson's brainchild Panion may seem like just another social app, but there is actually a big difference, and the successful creator behind this new social tool also has an interesting personal story to go with it.
When Melanie Aronson moved from New York City to Malmö, Sweden 5 years ago, she quickly realized that making friends in this new part of the globe would be very difficult. As an immigrant in the country that continuously ranked number 1 as the hardest place to make new friends, Melanie struggled, and as a researcher at Lund University, focused on integration, she realized she wasn’t alone! So she started to build a prototype for a tool she felt would help immigrants feel more connected in Sweden; an idea, that has garnered much attention and interest among money heavy investors and entrepreneurs in Denmark, Sweden, the U.S., and Russia.
The idea gave birth to Panion, a social meeting place for like-minded people with common interests. Panion differs from other apps, in the sense that it is more of a search engine than an actual social network. “Panion is a tool for meeting each other in person. Without focusing on sharing an endless stream of content, Panion is all about highlighting people’s interests, values and experiences. Things that really define who you are. Then we use data and keywords to make everyone searchable and filterable by what they like and who they are.” says Melanie Aronson. Today, she has a team of ten, some of whom are consultants, and many of which are immigrants themselves.
Melanie Aronson is a first-time startup founder, but not a first-time entrepreneur. She has been running her own freelance business for the last ten years. She has a background as an anthropologist and came to Malmö on a Fulbright scholarship to study integration at the height of the migration influx in 2014. She has also been working as a filmmaker for the last 7 years and has found that filmmaking has hugely impacted her ability to know how to create a product from scratch.
“I've been thinking about how making films has prepared me for building a startup. In a sense they are very similar, both speak to an audience, are about creating a product, require testing and iteration, and require you to find the right people to build a team,” says Melanie Aronson.
The platform has also integrated a B2B option, where large networks like associations, universities, or even companies can create a private community on the platform to enable searchability and filtering amongst their members. This is not only a huge asset for say, new students, trying to find like-minded friends when they start university, but could also help with the integration of new employees into a company.
Recently, Aronson has closed a pre-seed investment round of SEK 2.5 million from six business partners and a micro-VC. Such investors include Klaus Nyengaard (former CEO of Just Eat), David Helgason (founder of the Danish game development platform Unity), Sune Alstrup (CEO and co-founder of The Eye Tribe), Ulf Munkedal, (founder of data security company, FortConsult), Unconventional Ventures, a new fund in Copenhagen that supports underrepresented founders, and Fredrik Bendroth, the sole Swedish investor, (founder of the employee relocation service, Human Entrance).
Panion finally released its Version 1.0 at the beginning of this year, and so far has attracted almost 100,000 users. Their eventual goal is to create a space where people can offer workshops and exchange knowledge and different skills while also being able to earn a bit of extra money
Find out more about Panion and download the app for Android and iOS at https://panion.com/