Singapore-based mobile value-added services (VAS) firm U2opia Mobile Pte Ltd has raised its first round of institutional funding from Matrix Partners India. Matrix was the only investor in this round. However, further details of the deal and its size are not known.

The funds will be used to grow its employee base and expand its global reach.

U2opia was founded in 2010 by Sumesh Menon and Ankit Nautiyal. Prior to founding U2opia, Menon was a senior marketing director at Bubble Motion Inc., another mobile applications firm, and he is now an advisor there. Menon joined Bubble Motion from Bharti Airtel Ltd. Nautiyal was previously employed at Bubble Motion in Singapore and also worked with Bharti Telesoft.

U2opia launched its flagship platform Fonetwish on Airtel networks in May this year. Since then, it has added major carriers in the country, such as Idea Cellular, Vodafone Essar, Tata Indicom, Tata DoCoMo, Reliance Communications, Videocon and Tata Indicom.

Fonetwish allows mobile users to access Facebook via USSD (unstructured supplementary service data) and was co-developed with the social networking major. The company claims that Fonetwish reaches over 300 million users in India, South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Sumesh Menon, co-founder and CEO of U2opia Mobile, had earlier told that he planned to expand to Indonesia and the Philippines.

U2opia also offers two other solutions – Fonedoo, a mobile site where one can purchase mobile content such as caller tunes, and Fonebuy, a micropayment platform for virtual goods. Fonedoo currently features six million songs in its catalogue.

Menon said, “Mobile is clearly the next big catalyst for the social Internet. Our product Fonetwish empowers millions of mobile users to stay constantly connected to their social networks without any dependency on the Internet. It has a complete consumer value proposition and presents an opportunity that has resonated with the telcos globally.”

Private equity firm Matrix India has recently invested Rs 45 crore in CloudNine or Kids Clinic India Pvt Ltd, which offers maternity and infant care in Bangalore. Earlier, it had invested in mobile classifieds start-up Verse Innovation, online classifieds site Quikr, Itz Cash Card, DVD rental service-turned-merchandiser Seventymm and online gaming company It has $3 billion under management for the US, China and India investments.

“We remain excited about the consumer mobile services opportunity in India and believe that mobile will be integral to the growth of social media in this country. We are excited to be associated with the team at U2opia and have been impressed by what they have been able to accomplish in a short period of time. We look forward to partnering with them on their journey,” said Rishi Navani, managing director of Matrix India.


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