Kirusa Inc., a Mumbai-based voice SMS company, has raised $3 million in additional Series C funding. It had held a $10 million first close earlier this year. Qualcomm Ventures led the expansion, with Eastven Partners and Erasmic Venture Fund also participating. The initial tranche had been co-led by Helion Venture Partners and Nexus India Capital.
Kirusa, the leading mobile value-added services provider, today announced the expansion of its Series C financing, bringing the total round to US $ 13.3 million. The expansion, led by Qualcomm Ventures with participation by Eastven Partners, the successor fund to Ericsson Venture Partners, and Erasmic Venture Fund will further fuel Kirusa's global expansion to help meet strong worldwide demand for its products, and to increase its R&D activities. Original Series C investors include Helion Venture Capital and Nexus India Capital.
Kirusa is the inventor of, and the world leader in, the hugely successful Voice SMS application. Voice SMS enables people to send SMS messages by speaking. A user presses the 'star' key, followed by the recipient's number, and speaks a short message of up to 30 seconds. The recipient gets an SMS message from the sender, and can “click” (or dial) a number in the message to directly access the spoken message. After listening to the message, the recipient can reply by voice, or by text, or can forward the message. Voice SMS is the fastest growing value added service in Asia, and is exploding globally with major deployments under way in other parts of the world. Kirusa holds a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its Voice SMS technology. Kirusa's customers include Tata Telecom, Idea Cellular, MTNL, and BPL Mobile, in India; GrameenPhone and Warid Telecom in Bangladesh; Ufone, Warid Telecom, and China Mobile in Pakistan, and Globacom in Nigeria, amongst others. Millions of subscribers are using Voice SMS to communicate with their colleagues and loved ones.
Nagraj Kashyap, director, Qualcomm Ventures says, “Voice SMS has a very strong value proposition that we believe will drive revenue growth for mobile carriers around the globe. Kirusa has established itself as a pioneering innovator in this space. Their experienced management team, combined with the company's strong intellectual property position, will help Kirusa to build on its already impressive achievements. Qualcomm is pleased to take part in this funding round.”
“We are delighted that Qualcomm has made a strategic investment in Kirusa,” said Pankaj Sethi, President, Value Added Services, Tata Teleservices Ltd. He further said, “We are witnessing the continued growth of value added services in our businesses, in both data and voice-led applications. In a multilingual nation like India, where texting can be a challenge, Voice SMS and related applications will open a whole new growth opportunity for mass consumers. Leading industry players such as Kirusa will play a significant role in this development.”
Mark McAndrews from Eastven says, “Kirusa is poised for rapid and continued growth and is set to capitalize on sizeable market opportunities. Our relationships with key industry players, such as Ericsson, not only give us unique visibility and perspective on the market, but will also help Kirusa grow into global markets.”
Commenting on the new investors, Dr. Inderpal Singh Mumick, Chairman and CEO of Kirusa said, “We hope to harness Qualcomm, Eastven's relationships with equipment providers and Erasmic, to accelerate our progress towards the goal of becoming a key partner of mobile carriers worldwide.”
About Qualcomm Ventures
Qualcomm Ventures was launched in the United States in November 2000 with an initial US$500 million allocation. Qualcomm Ventures' aim is to support Qualcomm's mission of enabling and fostering 3G and wireless Internet markets through strategic investments in privately owned startup ventures. These strategic investments include companies focusing on wireless communication technologies and products serving consumer, enterprise and vertical markets worldwide.
Eastven is a technology venture capital firm and is the successor fund to Ericsson Venture Partners. Eastven is focused on the communications technology market and invests in network infrastructure, software, semiconductor, and enabling technology companies. Eastven is particularly interested in next-generation IP-based infrastructure, and systems and applications in the service network layer. For more information, please visit www.eastven.com.
About Erasmic Venture Fund
Erasmic Venture Fund (EVF, www.erasmic.com) is an early-stage venture capital fund. EVF has the mandate to invest into early-stage cross-border (US/India corridor) startups, and brings to bear significant operational experience of its Partners to help portfolio companies. EVF has made investments in companies that are in fairly diverse areas, such as Internet & Mobile, Knowledge Process Outsourcing, and Technology Products.
Kirusa is a leading developer of value added mobile services that provide the freedom of multimodality. Kirusa's solutions include the hugely successful KV.SMS