Home Industry Telecoms & NBN Big hitter investors get behind Unlockd launch of ‘revolutionary’ smartphone tech
Matt Berriman, Unlockd CEO & co-founder Matt Berriman, Unlockd CEO & co-founder Featured

An Australian start-up that has launched a solution that will let consumers pay their smartphone bills by watching adverts has raised funds from high profile investors in the media, business and technology industries.

Unlockd, founded by Chris Kerrisk, Craig Watt and Matt Berriman, has raised “double digit” millions from the likes of Matt Rockman from Seek, Andrew Walsh (Hitwise), Gabby and Hezi Leibovich of the Catch of the Day Group), Sam Mostyn a Board member of Virgin Australia & the AFL Commission, Margaret Jackson, chair of Spotless, and Peter Gammell, Former MD and CEO of  Seven Group Holdings.

This is Unlockd’s third capital raising and reportedly $15 million has been invested by the business heavyweight.

The new business model from Unlockd allows telcos and other telecommunications providers to to offer their customers the option of watching ads, deals and content to earn credits to pay for part of their usage.

Unlockd launched today with its first Australian telco partner - MVNO Lebara Mobile - and says it has plans to launch in the United States shortly via an exclusive partnership with a major US telecom brand.

According to Matt Berriman, CEO and co-founder of Unlockd, 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.

“This is a global play and will be revenue generating from day one.”

Unlockd says it 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 ARPUs (average revenue per users),” said Founder and Director of PLC Venture Capital, Emmanuel said.

According to Lebara Mobile commercial director Michael Baxter, 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.

“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.”

Under the deal with Unlockd, from yesterday (26 October), Lebara’s 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.

Unlockd says that by the first quarter of next year it will have over 40 staff with offices in Melbourne, New York and London, and by the end of 2016 aims to have products featuring its technology available in UK, Indonesia, India, China and Singapore.

Co-founder Matt Berriman says that “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 $50 million revenue within the next year.

Commenting on Unlockd’s launch and its global expansion plans, Andrew Walsh, former CEO of Hitwise and founder of technology investor Tall Ventures, said 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.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

 

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