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Web Video Company Kin Community Raises $13.5 Million to Fund International Expansion

Mike Shields for The Wall Street Journal ,

Kin Community, a web video company that both produces original content and works with a stable of top digital media creators, has raised $13.5 million in series D financing.

The company plans to use the cash infusion to expand into new regions, starting with Australia this year and the U.K. in 2017. The privately held company declined to comment on its valuation.

Kin produces web series aimed primarily at post-college young women, centered on topics like home décor and food.

The company is also something of a midsize multichannel network. It works with 120 creators overall, including prominent YouTube stars like Hannah Hart of “My Drunk Kitchen” and Rosanna Pansino of the baking-themed “Nerdy Nummies,” as well as creators who have built followings on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

Including this funding round, Kin has raised $40.5 million in total over the past eight years. This series D round was led by Emil Capital Partners, but also included investment from several companies outside the U.S., which could assist Kin with its international expansion. International investors included the retail giant Tengelmann Group, the Canadian TV company Corus Entertainment and the Australian firm Allure Media.

Corus and Emil Capital each participated in Kin’s most recent funding round in 2014.

According to Chief Executive Michael Wayne, Kin has sought local partners in key markets to help the company connect with advertisers and influencers in different parts of the world.

“Unlike a new cable network that has to build out new channels in each market, we’re on global platforms from day one,” said Mr. Wayne. “But, the business of online video is very local. The majority of our creators today have big U.S. audiences. And U.S. brands want to reach U.S. consumers. That’s the same in Canada.”

When Kin pushed into Canada starting in 2014, it did so with the local TV company Corus. Corus helped Kin connect with Canadian advertisers while it started to gradually link up with Canadian web video creators.

They started with six creators in Canada, and now Kin works with more than 30. Kin has been able to land ad budgets from Canadian brands including Motrin and Baskin Robbins.

“That speed to market is very valuable,” Mr. Wayne said.

Thus, Kin will take a similar approach in Australia. But while Kin owns the Kin Canada brand, the company will attack the market by forming a joint venture with the Australian media firm Allure.

The plan is to explore different types of partnerships with media companies of all kinds as Kin broadens its reach. For example, Kin’s investment from German retail company Tengelmann could assist in European expansion down the road.

In the U.S., Kin also collaborates on content distribution and development with the local broadcasting company Tegna, which also invested during this round.

The plan is for Kin to have a presence in the top 10 to 20 markets in a few years. To date, the firm has worked with advertisers such as Olay, Nordstrom Rack and Chevrolet.

Mr. Wayne believes that Kin’s size relative to much of the MCN space and the fact that the company is independent allows it to expand more nimbly.

“I think it is an asset right now,” he said. “We’ve never scaled for scale’s sake. What gets really interesting is when we are in the top 20 markets and then we can really go to global brands with some unique ideas.”