Melbourne-based mobile ads startup Unlockd has just closed a series B funding round worth US$23 million. It aims to use the money to tap the massive potential it sees in Asian markets.
Last year, Unlockd was named as one of five of the fastest-growing and best-funded Australian startups in a Tech in Asia community post. The company’s twist on the mobile advertising segment includes novel approaches such as ads that appear onscreen when mobile users unlock their devices, or offers in return for watching ads. These can be phone bill discounts, premium content, or additional data allowances.
In a press release detailing the series B close, Unlockd highlights Asia-Pacific as being a key growth area for its business. Quoting data from the GSM Association, the release says that there are currently more than 2.5 billion unique mobile subscribers throughout the region. That figure is predicted to rise to 3.1 billion by 2020, with a penetration rate of 74 percent.
Furthermore, market research firm eMarketer expects the lion’s share of this growth to occur in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, taking the region’s total smartphone penetration rate to almost one-third of the population.
Among the investors that participated in the recent funding round is Axiata Digital, an affiliate of Malaysian telecoms company Axiata, which has become a notable player on the regional VC stage in recent years. In addition to its financial backing, Axiata Digital is entering into a strategic partnership with Unlockd to assist the startup’s push into Asia.
The collaboration will provide Unlockd with direct access to Axiata’s mobile carrier businesses, which cover Malaysia as well as Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, serving close to 320 million customers.
Founded in 2014, Unlockd has already grown beyond its home market through deals with Tesco Mobile in Britain, Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates, Sprint’s Boost Mobile in the United States, and Digicel in the Caribbean.
Quoting data from Internet DealBook, Unlockd’s press release says that the US$23 million just raised by the startup represents the second largest funding amount for an Australian tech company in 2017 so far, and the sixth largest over the past 12 months.
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