Brandtone closes third funding round

Brandtone has closed its third round of funding from Syngenta Ventures and further investment from Unilever Ventures and Verlinvest. Brandtone is a micro-multinational company headquartered in Dublin that delivers mobile marketing campaigns for global brands in the developing and emerging markets.


Brandtone, the leading mobile marketing company in developing and emerging markets, has closed its third round of funding with an investment of €14 million, including €4m from Syngenta Ventures and further investment from Unilever Ventures and Verlinvest.

Thanks to the deal, the Dublin-based micro-multinational, which has expanded from one fast-growing market into ten in just three years, will further extend its global reach, opening offices in New York and Jakarta early this year.

Brandtone will use this funding to establish and grow its operations in the ten fastest growing markets, which will account for 75% of client revenue by the end of the decade. It is also set to make a major investment in its products and services to address increasing smartphone penetration, and the growth of financial and health services in these markets.

The investment by the venture capital arm of Syngenta is part of a strategic move by the company to engage in more innovative ways with farmers in China, India, South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Syngenta will commence work with Brandtone in 2014 to engage smallholders, taking advantage of mobile as the only universal media channel to encourage more effective and safer use of its products.

Unilever, which has invested in Brandtone since its inception, has committed further investment through its investment arm Unilever Ventures. The investment is to support international expansion of the company’s offerings and facilitate the development of the company’s products in direct consumer marketing, media delivery and Smartphone integration. Unilever has already signed a separate commercial deal with Brandtone to expand the partnership into a number of new markets including China, India, Indonesia and the US.

Family owned investment company Verlinvest has also contributed significantly to the funding round, reflecting an increasing emphasis on digital branding within its portfolio. Both Verlinvest and Unilever will continue to be represented on the Brandtone board along with representatives from Syngenta Ventures.

Robert Berendes, Syngenta’s Global Head of Business Development, said: “Brandtone’s unique mobile solutions will help Syngenta meet the ambitious commitments outlined in our Good Growth Plan. This includes reaching 20 million smallholder farmers to help them increase their farming productivity by 50% without further depleting scarce land, water and energy resources.”

Donald Fitzmaurice, Founder and CEO, Brandtone, said: “Brandtone’s success to date has been underpinned by committed support from Unilever and Verlinvest, and we are delighted to welcome Syngenta on board. Mobile offers a way for our clients to engage responsibly and sustainably with consumers in the fastest growing markets and, together with Syngenta, we are excited about exploring the possibilities this offers in the agricultural sector.”

John Coombs, Chairman of Brandtone and Managing Director of Unilever Ventures, said: “When we first invested in Brandtone three years ago, the full potential of mobile in developing and emerging markets was

only just being recognized. Now it is the vehicle for some of the most innovative marketing anywhere in the world. We are pleased to continue our support for Brandtone as it moves into this exciting new phase of its development.”

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Notes to Editors:

Brandtone is a micro-multinational company headquartered in Dublin that delivers mobile marketing campaigns for global brands in the developing and emerging markets. The company’s campaigns are based on a principle of ‘sustainable engagement’: ensuring long-lasting relationships with campaign participants by ensuring that the consumer opts in, controls the interaction and receives tangible benefits and rewards.

Since its inception in 2010, Brandtone has grown from one market into twelve, delivering high-impact campaigns for global brands including Unilever, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s and Mondelēz (view case studies).

As a result of these campaigns, Brandtone has built up a permissioned database of millions of profiled consumers in developing and emerging markets, using Big Data analytics to inform campaigns, cross-sell products and build an in-depth understanding of each market.

In the past year the company has won five awards at the Marketing Week Engage, Smarties, Meffys and the Irish Mobile Marketing Awards.

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About Syngenta Ventures:

As the venture capital arm of Syngenta, one of the world’s leading agribusiness companies, Syngenta Ventures seeks to identify early stage companies with a strong technology base or new business model. Our team of investment professionals, together with the support of our 27,000 colleagues across the world, can help build valuable businesses benefitting both Syngenta and the investee company stakeholders.

Our international and multi-disciplinary team, located in the US and Europe, has extensive strategic and financial experience. Combined with Syngenta’s deep and broad capabilities, this helps portfolio companies maximize their value to achieve a successful outcome for both the company and its investors.

About Unilever Ventures

Unilever Ventures (UV) is the Venture capital arm of Unilever. The fund invests in early stage companies that could become strategically relevant to Unilever and can benefit from access to Unilever’s assets and capabilities. The fund seeks to invest in Personal care, Refreshment, Digital marketing and technology that can be deployed to support Unilever’s Sustainable Living plan. Set up in 2002, Unilever Ventures has established operations in Europe, North America and South Asia either directly or through partner funds. UV is looking to find – or to create – ambitious, market-leading companies, led by world class management teams. UV’s investments include: Syneron Beauty, Froosh, Snog, Voltea, VH2 and P2i, to name a few.

About Verlinvest

Verlinvest is a family-owned, consumer-focused investment holding company. Our objective is to diversify family holdings through private equity investments in the branded consumer goods industry where we can play an active supporting role and create value in the long run. Our shareholders are all part of the Belgian controlling families of Anheuser Busch-InBev.