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Needl, a YC startup based in Seattle, raises $2.5M to build ‘a search bar for your entire life’

From left: Needl co-founders James Liu, Max Keenan, and Angela Liu. (Needl Photo)

Needl, a Seattle startup building a personal search product that pulls information from across different web apps, raised $2.5 million.

The company, which just graduated from Y Combinator, aims to help people quickly find files, documents, or messages.

“We’ve essentially built a single search bar for your entire life,” said CEO Max Keenan. “It’s basically Mac’s Spotlight on steroids.”

Keenan started the company with fellow University of Chicago alums James Liu and Angela Liu, both former software engineers at Microsoft.

Needl aims to serve three types of searches:

  • Finding specific files or documents
  • Finding information about a specific category or subject
  • Finding relevant info about a person or company

Keenan said project managers are the initial primary target audience for Needl, which launched a closed beta in August and is rolling out to more users this week. Here’s how he described the use case in an email to GeekWire:

Another example (and one of the most common), one of our users is a PM. Ahead of every one of her calls, she uses Needl to search the Project Name and from there, she instantly has the relevant presentations in Slides, the latest specs in Notion, and the tickets in Jira. Instead of spending 10 minutes tracking down the relevant information, she has everything right at her fingertips with a single search.

There are several companies that offer search-related capabilities, including Glean, which raised $100 million earlier this year.

Keenan, a former investment banker, said Glean makes “great internal search” but is targeted at enterprises.

“We learned that finding information is hard, even at small companies, so we’re building a self-serve tool that anyone can get going in less than two minutes and from there, find anything they need, regardless of where it lives,” he said. “Needl does not require full company buy-in, unlike most of our predecessors.”

Other similar startups include Command E, which raised $4.3 million in 2020, and Seattle-based Plus, which raised $5.5 million last year.

Needl’s investors include Fuse, Y Combinator, Palm Drive Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, Stanford professor Collin Wallace, and SimpleLegal founder Nathan Wenzel.

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