This 18-year-old prodigy and serial entrepreneur has raised $850,000 to take on Snapchat

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Daniel Singer

  • 18-year-old Daniel Singer is the founder of Panda, a social media app similar to Snapchat that’s triggered by audio cues.
  • Singer raised $200,000 for his first project, YouTell, when he was only 14.
  • Now, Singer is creating an app that he says will “turn conversations into Pixar movies in real time.”
  • He just announced the close of an $850,000 round of funding to build it.

“I quite literally grew up on Snapchat,” says Daniel Singer. “I’ve been using it since I was around 11 years old.”

Now, at the age of 18, Singer is creating his own company with the hopes of taking Snapchat’s technology one step further.

Singer is the founder of Panda, a new social media app that creates animated, interactive filters similar to Snapchat’s through an entirely new medium: voice.

“Panda tries to visualize what you’re saying,” says Singer. “We want to turn conversations into Pixar movies in real time.”

Singer’s ambitions for Panda have snagged the attention of Silicon Valley investors. This week, he announced the conclusion of a year-long fundraising cycle, in which he raised $850,000 from investors including Shrug Capital, Founders Fund partner Cyan Banister, Social Capital, and Afore Capital.

“We’re trying to create tools for people to communicate better,” says Singer. “We’re trying to create a more intimate form of communication, where you can actually visualize what people are saying with your own eyes.”

Panda’s technology, works similarly to Snapchat’s stickers, only it’s triggered by audio cues. For instance, if you’re using Panda’s app, and you say out loud that you’re eating, a piece of cartoon pizza might appear at the corner of your mouth. Say the word “sunglasses” and a pair of sleek dark shades materializes over your eyes. Mention the word “party,” and a colorful virtual party hat pops up on your head.

These filters are only the beginning of Panda’s future possibilities, says Singer. His end goal is to create entire visual dioramas triggered from complex spoken lexicons over phone calls through Apple’s Facetime.

“We want to be better than your imagination,” says Singer. “We have these amazing super computers in our pockets that can bring entire conversations to life, and so we’re trying to make the imagination real.”

Even though Singer is still a teenager, he’s already a serial entrepreneur. He founded his previous pursuit, a website called YouTell, when he was only 12 years old. The site, which garnered as many as 3.1 million mostly-teenage users, ended up snagging $200,000 in funding. At age 14, Singer managed four employees who helped turn YouTell into the now-defunct iPhone messaging app Backdoor, and won two patents.

“I really like entrepreneurship,” a 14-year-old Singer told Business Insider in 2014.