An Appleton-based animation startup called Dodles has officially launched in several test markets after months of gathering customer feedback and tweaking software.

“We make it possible for people to animate more easily from their mobile devices,” said Craig Doriot, company founder. “To really just unleash the power of animation to the average everyday person so they can communicate more effectively with animation tools.”

Doriot spoke yesterday as part of a discussion hosted in Appleton by Kinnektor, an entrepreneurial support group that’s working to grow its reach from the Fox Valley area. The session focused on prototyping, and featured several startups telling their stories of product development.

Beta testing for Dodles had been going on for about six months, and Doriot says the platform gained about 500 active users in that time. By comparison, in the last 30 days, he and his team have been able to add over 1,500 users without any traditional paid advertising.

Instead, Doriot and his team have been reaching users face-to-face by visiting comic con events and connecting online by targeting social media users through Instagram and individual social influencers.

Doriot tells that most people they’ve been able to reach through comic con events are between 30 and 40 years old, whereas the online efforts are hitting younger users. By targeting specific groups of people based on hashtags they use or other trackable online activity, Dodles has built up a social media following of over 300,000. Read the full story here.