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Omidyar Network India strikes first overseas deal with bet on ringtone app Vyng
Photo Credit: VCCircle

Impact investment firm Omidyar Network India has made its first overseas bet by jointly leading a Series A investment of $4 million (around Rs 29 crore) in Vyng, an app which allows smartphone users to play videos as ringtones.

The California-headquartered startup said in a statement said that US-based venture fund March Capital Partners was the other major contributor. Tech VC fund Alpha Edison and early-stage specialist Entrepreneur Fund, both existing investors, also participated in the round.

Vyng said it plans to use the fresh capital to expand its global team, extend partnerships and develop patents that drive the video content experience on smartphones.

The company says it helps users start conversations on mobile by bringing emotion to the lockscreen. Vyng’s video ringtones app lets users set video channels or their own video as their ringtone, playing a fresh video on the lockscreen with every call.

Vyng claims to have two billion videos played across 170 countries since its launch early last year. It has three current patents for its proprietary technology delivering video through calls and contextual texting.

The company was founded by Art Haedike, Jeffrey Chernick and Paul Kats and has raised $7 million in funding since its inception. 

Earlier this year, it raised an undisclosed amount in angel funding from Indian Angel Network (IAN). The round was led by former Citibank executive Sandeep Soni.

The investment was part of an angel funding round that started in 2017. The round raised close to $3 million, led by March Capital Partners in a syndicate alongside BAM Ventures, HOF Capital, Inspiration Ventures, and others, including advisors Alex Chung, the co-founder of Giphy, and Steve Martocci, co-founder of GroupMe.

“For the new wave of mobile internet users in India, whom we refer to as the Next Half Billion, there is an urgent need to reimagine the user journey,” said Siddharth Nautiyal, investment partner at Omidyar Network India. “Vyng does that by integrating video and social expression to an existing behaviour, the phone call.”

Omidyar Network India is part of the Silicon Valley-based investment firm started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. 

The Indian unit focusses on low-income and lower-middle-income populations by working across multiple areas including digital identity, education, emerging technology, financial inclusion, governance and property rights.

After a relatively dormant 2017, Omidyar Network has made more than a dozen bets this year, most of them new investments.

Last month, it led a Series B investment in online tutoring startup Vedantu.

In September, Bonfleet Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which runs fintech startup Bon, raised a seed round of funding led by Omidyar Network.

Omidyar’s other fintech bets include digital insurance platform Toffee.

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