senzari-2012

Pandora Competitor Senzari Raises $1 Million From 500 Startups & Angels To Fund Global Expansion

Posted on May 19, 2011 by nina

Published by Tech Crunch

Miami-based streaming music startup Senzari, which aims to take on Pandora by targeting the markets Pandora misses (i.e., the rest of the world), has just closed an additional round of funding totaling $1 million. The round includes investors in both Miami and Silicon Valley, including, notably Dave McClure’s 500 Startups.

The company had previously raised $2 million from undisclosed angels in Silicon Valley and Boston (mainly friends and family) and a private equity group in Southern California.

Senzari, the fourth startup from serial entrepreneur Bill Hajjar, offers an online music streaming radio service with a catalog of 11 million songs – a big jump over Pandora’s 900,000. As a radio service, Senzari is not trying to compete with startups like Spotify, Rdio or MOG, which let users program playlists and download tracks for offline listening. Instead, its value proposition is that it has a bigger database containing the “right” songs (meaning, the good ones), and, most importantly, that’s it’s available outside the U.S.

Also unlike on-demand services, Senzari doesn’t have to make deals with record labels to gain access to music – just distributers like SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC in the U.S., and others in different countries.

The company rolled out into beta in Spain back in February of this year in partnership with MTV, following its beta launches in the both U.S. and Brazil (where VH1 is its partner) in December 2011.

Another unique feature to the service is how it integrates social. Using Facebook’s Open Graph, Senzari aims to do for streaming music radio services what Spotify did for on-demand music services – that is, it will help you discover what your friends are into. Of course, Pandora offers some Facebook integration too, but Senzari plans to go further, not just showing you who listened to what, but combining data from both your own listening habits and those of your friends to serve up personalized music recommendations.

It also offers something called “Around Me,” which combines check-in data from Facebook to algorithmically suggest tunes based on what people at a particular location (like a bar, coffeeshop, etc.) tend to listen to. In other words, a social, local, Facebook-based radio service.

The new funding will be officially announced tonight as the Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) Latin American Tour kicks off in Miami. The 10-day tour includes stops in Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.

“We are excited about joining the 500 family as it allows us to leverage its impressive mentor network and global relationships,” says Senzari COO Demian Bellumio. “As a matter of fact, we created a special section in Senzari with radios for each of the stops of the tour with music that represent current and classic hits.”

The company plans to use the funding to expand its core team, strengthen and add features to its service, and continue its rollout to other regions. Although Senzari won’t reveal its expansion goals right now, the company will announce more countries and partnerships in June at the LeWeb Conference in London.