Sequoia-backed Bento wants be more than a link-in-bio tool for creators
There are as many link-in-bio tools available for creators as the number of links they typically display on their pages. But there is one more addition to it. Sequoia-backed startup Bento is launching its tool to let users display their work in an elegant way across both desktop and mobile.
Bento, which has been under closed beta for the last few months, is now accepting all users. Currently, the site offers well-designed pages with options to resize and reorganize widgets easily. The good thing is that you just have to add links to different pages, and the site will generate a rich preview for you. That makes it easier for people to highlight specific parts of their work apart from linking to a generic page like a LinkedIn profile.
The startup says that while link generation features are available on other link-in-bio platforms, it has made it easier to add links and move around widgets even on mobile. Users can also use the desktop site to edit their mobile layout.
The site offers some customization to link previews like showing the last three jobs from the LinkedIn profile, the last few photos from Instagram, and the latest GitHub projects.
Bento’s long-term plan is to let people consume content on those pages. For instance, in the future, users visiting a page will be able to play a YouTube video without leaving the site. At the moment, if creators want to show a video on their Bento page, they can upload a file on the site instead of a link.
The idea behind the product
Zurich-based Bento is founded by Sélim Benayat and Mugeeb Hassan. Benayat previously built RosieReality, a startup working on augmented reality tech, and Hassan was the company’s first hire. The AR company was acquired in 2020, but the founders didn’t say by whom.
Benayat and Hassan started building Bento in May 2022 to support creators who want to make a living online by helping them understand and grow their audience.
“Mugeeb and I believe in an upcoming generational shift in how we work. Away from working at big companies and more towards launching creative businesses and personal brands. With Bento, we want to support this shift. We feel strongly about empowering the creative and the brave to venture out and build their own business,” Benayat said in a conversation with TechCrunch.
The co-founders believe that a lot of tools in the market just act as routers to other platforms. They want Bento to be a “destination” for creators where they can host their work, grow their audience and make money as well.
Benayat said link-in-bio tools often just redirect consumers to other platforms, where creators might not own tools for distribution or monetization.
“The reason is that social platforms focus on CTRs on ads, rather than helping makers maximize the value extracted per follower. There are hugely misaligned incentives. Makers don’t own their audience nor the pipes to engage with them. All is mitigated by algorithms optimizing for platform-wide engagement,” he said.
The startup has raised $1.6 million in a pre-seed round led by Sequoia Arc along with participation from NextBlue and Gaingels Network.
Bento has a ton of competition in the link-in-bio tools space. Linktree is already a giant in space. Last year, the Australia-based startup became a unicorn with its $110 million Series C funding.
Other competitors include a16z-backed Beacon and CRV and Crossfeed Ventures-backed Snipfeed. Facetune app fame Israel-based company Lightricks and live streaming startup Streamlabs have also launched their link-in-bio tools. If you think this list is not enough there is Shorby, Milkshake, Tap.bio, lnk.bio, Link in Profile, bio.fm, and Campsite. So a pretty packed space overall.
The key differentiation would be how Bento allows users to make money out of their pages. The company wants to start this process by introducing widgets for donation acceptance — which is launching this week —and product offerings. In the beginning, Bento won’t take a cut from these donations.
“The thinking is – if we help Bento-owners more efficiently transact and sell on Bento, we believe it is fair to participate in that success. It aligns the incentives of the users and us,” Benayat said.
In the coming months, apart from enabling monetization options for creators, Bento wants to start rolling out features that will help them build a community.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.