Unwired Nation brings on capital, people
Christopher Calnan Staff Writer - Austin Business Journal
The Austin-based company, founded in 2004, was initially set up to automate a company’s telephone calls to customers. It has since developed an online tool called Kinita that converts Web pages to most smartphone platforms.
In December, Unwired Nation received $1 million of a planned $6.5 million financing from 15 investors, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It also hired a group of veteran tech executives, such as former venture capitalist Jay Holtz as chief operating officer and former Cedar Point Communications Inc. executive Steve Hencinski as senior sales executive.
The build out is happening just as tablet devices such as Apple Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad are gaining momentum with users, providing Unwired Nation with additional potential, CEO Eric Smith said.
“We see mobile as the new Web,” he said. “This is an overall industry trend that’s happening, and we’ll be there with our app to support that.”
Unwired Nation employs 15 workers, and Smith expects that to double during 2012. He declined to disclose the company’s revenue or whether it is profitable yet.
Competitors include California-based Kony Solutions; Washington, D.C.-based PointAbout Inc.’s AppMakr; and California-based Mobile Roadie LLC.
When the 7-year-old company initially launched, four groups of investors had invested $8.2 million in the company. Then
Houston-based venture capital firm DFJ Mercury restructured the debt agreements with Unwired Nation’s original investors. The remainder of the $6.5 million funding round is scheduled to be completed in February, Smith said.
Unwired Nation sells about 80 percent of its software to resellers who private-label it for their clients. The remaining 20 percent of the business is from direct sales to companies such as Austin-based uShip Inc., which operates an online directory of professional movers. In September, uShip enlisted Unwired Nation to develop a mobile application.
With resellers, Unwired Nation generates revenue by splitting the revenue generated by Kinita, Smith said.
Dale Quisenberry, the founder of Austin-based Crossroads Systems Inc. (Pink: CRDS), was the lead investor in Unwired Nation’s latest funding. He became a board member as part of the deal.
Unwired Nation is well-positioned to take advantage of the ubiquity of mobile technology, Quisenberry said.
“Its strengths are the offering and the timing of the offering,” he said. “The world is becoming a mobile user.”