Australian Business Heavyweights Back Ad-Funded Smartphone Tech
Australian digital technology start-up, Unlockd,has raised double digit millions in its third capital raising ahead of its major product debut in Australia and the US.
Unlockd, founded by Chris Kerrisk, Craig Watt, and Matt Berriman, is pioneering a new business model for the telecommunications industry which allows consumers to pay for part of their usage when they view advertising, deals, and content upon unlocking their phone. The service launched with leading MVNO Lebara Mobile, to be followed shortly by a major US telecom brand early next year.
Investors now include some of the most respected names in the technology, media, and finance industries: Matt Rockman (Seek.com), Andrew Walsh (Hitwise), Gabby and Hezi Leibovich (Catch of the Day Group), Sam Mostyn (Board member, Virgin Australia & AFL Commission), Margaret Jackson (Spotless Chair), and Peter Gammell (Former MD and CEO Seven Group Holdings).
The business has also secured involvement from international investors from the US and UK along with heavyweights such as PLC Investments from Hong Kong, led by Citibank Vice Chairman Jeff Emmanuel.
“Our group was particularly attracted to Unlockd because it is such a clever and simple innovation. It helps solve such a large problem facing the global telecommunications industry, that of falling ARPU’s,” said Founder and Director of PLC Venture Capital, Jeff Emmanuel.
Matt Berriman, CEO and co-founder of Unlockd, said the Unlockd solution would forever change the way people use and pay for their smartphones both in Australia and internationally.
“This is a game changer because it generates new revenue streams and reduces churn for Telcos, whilst giving consumers a new way to pay for their smartphone usage and allows advertisers to reach that holy grail of geo-targeted, full-screen mobile advertising,” said Mr Berriman. “ This is a global play and will be revenue generating from day one.”
Australian launch partner Lebara Mobile believes consumers are crying out for more data and this model allows them to access it without blowing their budgets.
“People have become extremely sophisticated with their smartphones and are using up more data than ever,” said Lebara commercial director Michael Baxter. “By partnering with Unlockd, we’re giving Lebara customers the option to boost their data allowance and stay connected for longer, in return for a tailored and reward-driven experience.”
Lebara Mobile is one of the world’s fastest growing MVNO brands. From October 26, Australian customers who download the app and opt-in to view a display ad, deal, or piece of content, will be eligible for a bonus 2GB of data per month. All content, which will appear every three or four times they unlock their Android smartphone, can be dismissed instantly and is highly targeted, relevant, and non-intrusive.
“Many Lebara customers, who are heavy data users, will typically top up their data allowance half-way through the month,” said Michael Baxter. “Lebara Plus will give our customers in Australia the option of earning free credit or data, in return for targeted advertising.”
Android users account for 65 per cent of Lebara Mobile customers and 84 per cent of smartphone users globally. Android smartphone sales in Australia have overtaken those of the iPhone in the first half of the year and are expected to rise, according to technology analyst firm Telsyte.
Unlockd will launch in the United States shortly via an exclusive partnership with a major US telecom brand. By the first quarter of next year Unlockd will have over 40 staff with offices in Melbourne, New York and London. By the end of 2016 it aims to have products featuring its technology available in UK, Indonesia, India, China and Singapore.
There is a large volume of confidence from the business’ impressive investor base. “Unlockd has a rare combination for an investor of a world class management team, a truly global opportunity, a unique and patented technology platform and an initial cohort of significant Telco partners who are committed to rolling this out to their customers. These are the building blocks of what I think will be a great Australian success story,” said Andrew Walsh, former CEO of Hitwise and founder of technology investor Tall Ventures.
“On the back of several significant capital injections, over the coming months Unlockd will establish itself globally and is currently on track to be turning over $50m revenue within the next year,” said Mr Berriman, former General Manager of CC Media, which was acquired by APN in 2011.
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