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Mobile app venture biNu adds $4.3 million to money pool

Friday, 23 November 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Sydney-based start-up biNu has snagged $4.3 million from investors including 500 Startups, having already received funds from Google’s Eric Schmidt and Seek co-founder Paul Bassat.

 

BiNu, founded in 2008 by Gour Lentell and Dave Turner, is a mobile app platform that dramatically improves internet access speed, usability and social connectivity of mobile phones.

 

It works on the thousands of Java-enabled and Android devices, with rapid adoption rates in emerging economies where mobile phones are the primary internet access device.

 

More than 100 channels are available via biNu including social media, search, reference, books, SMS, news, weather and entertainment.

 

The company has closed a $4.3 million Series A funding round from investors including 500 Startups, PanAfrican Investment Co, and Australian entrepreneurs Adrian MacKenzie, Nicholas Gruen and Anthony Pascoe.

 

Gruen is the former chairman of successful start-up Kaggle. MacKenzie is a managing partner of CVC Capital Partners, while Pascoe is the chief executive of Lend Lease Ventures.

 

PanAfrican Investment Co, meanwhile, is led by American billionaire Ronald Lauder and Dick Parsons, former chief executive and chairman of Time Warner.

 

BiNu has already attracted investment from Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Seek co-founder Paul Bassat.

 

Other investors include the Savannah Fund and David Risher, co-founder of Worldreader.org.

 

The additional funding will be used to continue the rollout of the platform in emerging markets including Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe.

 

However, biNu has no intention of relocating outside of Sydney.

 

In addition to the funding announcement, the company has confirmed it will continue the rollout of social features with the launch of biNu credits.

 

BiNu credits enable members to send text messages to non-members anywhere in the world as well as purchase premium content and digital downloads, such as services and games.

 

According to co-founder Lentell, biNu is the first global, truly mobile social platform.

 

“Harnessing the traditional power of the mobile phone, such as text messages, with all the content-sharing, friending and following, simply makes sense,” he says.

 

“With the addition of every social feature, the community expands and members become increasingly engaged.”

 

“[This creates] an exciting atmosphere for social and mobile commerce, and opportunities for content owners to reach an interested and sizeable audience in the developing world.”

 

BiNu members earn credits by engaging in activities within the biNu app, such as completing a profile or sharing content, or as rewards from advertisers.

 

The launch of credits follows the release of a raft of social elements, including news feeds, following, friending and photo-sharing, which were added to the platform in August.