New Social Animation App. Raises $600k in Combined Locks, WI

Dodles App in Action. With Mario animation

Big Tech in Small Town Wisconsin

(Note: Full video interview with Dodles founder here.)

Imagine you have a crazy experience with a stranger at the grocery store. You want to tell people, but you need to show them. Do you go tell the story to your mom? Maybe your three best friends in person? What if you could quickly make your story into a cartoon, and share it to the world?

Dodles wants you to make your story into an engaging animation, and share it with your friends, all on your phone. The app was conceived by Craig Doriot with money from one of his past startups, an online mortgage engine.

Dodles sign inside the Combined Locks Headquarters. A refurbished church.

When you think about social media startups, you probably think of Silicon Valley. So what about Combined Locks, WI, a small village on the Fox River outside of Appleton? A few months ago Dodles, a mobile social animation app, closed on a $600,000 round of fundraising, and have launched the beta version of the app in smaller markets around the world.

The app is meant to bring animation to a broader audience. Just in time considering the constant rise in video content online. YouTube alone says 1 billion hours of video are consumed each day on their platform alone.

Dodles And Autism

Dodles also intends their product to be useful in engaging autistic users. Playing to their strengths by allowing them to express themselves through technologies, and also giving them an opportunity to make money on the app if they are creative enough. Doriot says that some members of the Dodles team, including himself, are on the autism spectrum.

“Traditionally we’ve had a hard time with gainful employment because of being on the spectrum usually presents a number of interpersonal challenges that employers have a hard time with.”

A senior developer at Dodles.

According to autism.org, people with autism, “are often disadvantaged when it comes to getting and keeping a job because of difficulties with social communication and interaction, other people’s lack of understanding, and sensory issues.” Dodles is a tool that works well with this group’s strengths and weaknesses.

Funding Dodles

It is unusual for Northeast Wisconsin to see this type of startup outside of Green Bay or the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Dodles continues picking up steam. They just finished their third round of funding, picking up $600,000. Doriot initially invested two million dollars of his own capital into Dodles. He says of Northeast Wisconsin, “I believe you can build a good technology company here. As well as you can build it in any other place.”

Dodles app in action.

Cost of living was cited as a benefit to starting a tech company here in Wisconsin, along with other factors. The company has launched the app in beta in secondary markets around the world.

Writer’s Thoughts

The prospect of a well executed app that can deliver on making animation accessible to a broader audience on your phone is very promising. I hope that Dodles acts as an example to local tech companies in Northeast Wisconsin. Showing the region and other entrepreneurs and investors what’s possible. I highly recommend you watch the full interview here! What are your thoughts on Dodles? Let’s start a discussion in the comments!