Mobile ad startup Unlockd just raised $30.8 million series B to expand into Asia

Unlockd’s Matt Berriman. (Source: supplied)

A Melbourne startup that rewards mobile phone users for watching ads has clinched $US23 million ($30.8 million) in series B funding to launch into Asian markets.

Malaysian telecommunications giant Axiata Group Berhad led the investment round through its digital arm. The deal will also allow Unlockd to access Axiata’s carrier list, which covers ten Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, India and Singapore.

The round is one of the biggest capital raises for an Australian startup this year, following Deputy’s $US25 million in January and HealthEngine’s $26.7 million last month.

Last October, Unlockd declared a goal of $US30 million ($40 million) for its series B — but now co-founder and chief executive Matt Berriman says the full amount was not necessary.

“Axiata Digital’s strategic and financial support provides us with an expedited pathway into one of the fastest growing smartphone regions in the world,” he said.

“Being able to secure agreements with their operating companies to roll out in key markets sooner than previously planned also means we could raise less capital than originally planned.”

The rest of the series B was backed up by previous investors, which included some of the biggest names in Australian business — such as Seven West Media board member Peter Gammell, Virgin Australia board member Sam Mostyn, Swisse Wellness chief Radek Sali and founder Greg Roebuck.

A new investor this time around is Alium Capital, which has made headlines this year participating in several massive capital raising rounds – Nitro’s $US15 million series C, HealthEngine’s $26.7 million series C and Stockspot’s $3 million series B.

Unlockd’s Aliza Knox. (Source: supplied)

Unlockd made its Asian expansion plans clear with the April appointment of Twitter executive Eliza Knox, who set up the social media giant’s Asian operations over four years.

“I’m excited that that we’ve now secured the right financial and human capital to deliver on the hyper growth profile we have in front of us,” said Berriman.

“The successful partnership with Axiata and closing of the round means we are one step closer to achieving our mission of giving back $500 million in Unlockd value to consumers by 2025.”

The Unlockd product works by giving mobile users credit in return for viewing ads on lockscreens. The credit can come in the form of discounts, mobile data or subsidy on a phone bill. Last year the concept launched in the US with Boost Mobile, UK with Tesco Mobile and in the Caribbean with Digicel.

Unlockd also unveiled a partnership with MTV this year to launch Unlockd Stream, which is described as “the first and only model that rewards with an uninterrupted listening and viewing experience” by using premium entertainment as “digital currency”.

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