OneVentures leads $1.5 million funding round for Paloma Mobile

Tech start-up Paloma Mobile has raised $1.5 million in a Series A funding round led by local venture capital firm OneVentures, despite launching less than a year ago.

Paloma Mobile, founded in July last year by Jennifer Zanich and Steve Langkamp, is developing and commercialising a cloud-based platform that delivers data-efficient smartphone applications.

The company’s first service – Photo Chat – delivers a mix of photos and social features, such as voice notes, in private conversations with friends or family.

Paloma made the announcement today about the $1.5 million capital raising. Roger Allen, a venture capital veteran, also participated in the round.

Paloma plans to use the funding to accelerate the development of smartphone services for its mobile operator partners in South East Asia, Latin America and other fast-growing regions.

According to OneVentures partner Anne-Marie Birkill, investing in Paloma is a “great example of backing a strong team with an impressive track record in building and exiting companies”.

“The long and the short of it is we’ve known Jennifer for some time and we’ve been tracking what she’s been doing. We’re always interested in the next step she might take,” Birkill says.

“We have a lot of confidence in her capability… Paloma Mobile was referred to us by a couple of other different parties as well.”

In addition to co-founding Paloma Mobile, Zanich is an advisor at Bullpen Capital. She founded Xumii and co-founded SeeSaw Networks, and has worked for the likes of Microsoft and Quest.

While Birkill would not disclose OneVenture’s stake in the start-up, she said the firm will gain a seat on the board of the company, in what will be “a very active director’s role”.

“We will assist the company in every way we possibly can, including basics with getting the business up and running, and assisting with product development,” she says.

Describing the Paloma Mobile platform as “very nice technology”, Birkill says the goal is to launch the technology in the next 12 months, with Asia tipped to be the first cab off the rank.

Zanich, who is currently in the United Kingdom, said in a statement there is a massive demand for photos and messaging in emerging markets, especially on low-end smartphones.

“Our Photo Chat service, in beta, is only one-tenth the download size of photo apps in developed markets, enabling it to run on the cheapest Android phones and even on GPRS networks,” she said.

Meanwhile, Birkill said OneVentures is “particularly excited” to be backing its first female founder.

“We look at every deal on their merits but two out of the three partners in our VC fund are female, so we perhaps look a bit more closely when a company is backed by women,” she says.

“But every deal is done on its merits.”

OneVentures typically invests in life sciences, information technology, telecommunications and clean technology.

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.


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