GAME-CHANGING TELCO APP DRAWS BIG INVESTORS

GAME-CHANGING TELCO APP DRAWS BIG INVESTORS

HIGH-PROFILE investors are taking a shine to a Melbourne-based technology startup which has developed an app that lets you watch ads in exchange for free phone data.

Unlockd has reportedly raised $15 million in its third round of capital raising ahead of the product's debut in Australia and the US.

The application allows customers to pay for part of their usage when they view advertising, deals and content upon unlocking their Android phone.

The company will launch with Lebara Mobile in Australia and allows Android users to dodge rapidly increasing data fees.

Investors include big names in the technology, media and finance industries, including Matt Rockman from Seek.com, Andrew Walsh from Hitwise, Gabby and Hexi Leibovich from Catch of the Day Group, Virgin Australia's Sam Mostyn, Margaret Jackson from Spotless Chair, and Seven Group's Peter Gammell.

International investors have also jumped on board with Unlockd, including Citibank vice-chairman Jeff Emmanuel who says the app is a clever solution to a growing issue.

"Our group was particularly attracted to Unlockd because it is such a clever and simple innovation," says Emmanuel.

"It helps solve such a large problem facing the global telecommunications industry, that of failing ARPUs (average revenue per user)."

Unlockd's Matt Berriman says the app is beneficial not only for consumers, but also for the telcos and advertisers.

"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 geotargeted, full-screen mobile advertising."

Unlockd will first launch with Lebara Mobile in Australia and will operate by showing content every three of four times an Android phone is unlocked, which can be dismissed instantly.

The app will then launch in the US and is predicted to have more than 40 staff and generate more than $50 million in revenue within the next year.

By the end of 2016, Unlockd plans to have its products available in the UK, Indonesia, India, China and Singapore.

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