ZIPIT ® WIRELESS INC. RECEIVES $4.7 MILLION IN SERIES A FUNDING AND START-UP CAPITAL
Cutting-Edge Technology Firm Gets Backing From Windspeed Ventures, SunBridge Partners, Meritus Ventures, and SC Launch!
July 24, 2007, Greenville, S.C. — Zipit Wireless Inc., the company behind Zipit Wireless Messenger, announced in a press conference today the procurement of $4.5 million in Series A funding from Windspeed Ventures, SunBridge Partners, Meritus Ventures, L.P. and $200,000 in start-up capital from SC Launch!.
This capital will allow Zipit Wireless Inc. to continue its expansion and drive toward new opportunities in the consumer electronics and wireless technology markets. Zipit ® will also use this capital to bring exciting new products to market, increase its visibility in the marketplace through a targeted nationwide marketing campaign, and increase its research and development and professional services staff.
Zipit Wireless Inc. is the developer and distributor of the Zipit Wireless Messenger, the only Wi-Fi instant messaging device on the market that supports all major IM services. It eliminates family feuds caused by teens tying up the family computer to use popular instant messaging services, while incurring no monthly or per message fees. The Zipit Wireless Messenger has received numerous national awards and praise by parents and analysts, including the iParenting Media Award in 2006 for its ease of use and safety.
“This funding marks an important stage in the evolution of our company,” said Frank Greer, president of Zipit Wireless Inc. “We believe consumers want and deserve a better experience in how they communicate and Zipit will make that experience a reality. Our new products will provide a more effective way for teens to connect with each other, while providing parents with the reassurance that they won’t be burdened by hidden charges or have to worry about online safety. We are very pleased to have the support and expertise of Windspeed Ventures, SunBridge Partners, Meritus Ventures and SC Launch! and will use this funding to aggressively move forward with the expansion of Zipit Wireless and Zipit-enabled products.”
“We believe Zipit Wireless can greatly benefit from the combination of tremendous growth and acceptance in wireless technology coupled with teens’ desire for personal, on demand communication,” said Steve Karlson, general partner of Windspeed Ventures. “Windspeed’s investment reflects our faith in Zipit and we look forward to a long and prosperous partnership.”
“For more than eight years, we have researched devices and companies providing messaging on the go, but until now none have combined the ease of use with the freedom from monthly charges the way Zipit has. Zipit is a game-changing solution to the problem of managing social connectivity, be it pure instant messaging or keeping up with one’s social networks,” said Paul Grim, general partner of SunBridge Partners. “We believe that Zipit offers consumers a unique communications product, free from the restrictions, long-term contracts and fees typical of today’s wireless industry. We are excited about Zipit’s future and look forward to helping them achieve their vision.”
“As the first investment for Meritus Ventures, Zipit Wireless Inc. is representative of the deals we are able to find in rural southern Appalachia and serves to validate the premise of Meritus as a Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC). Most traditional venture investors don’t look for deals in this region, but we found a capable and experienced management team, with an impressive product platform, in a dynamic and rapidly growing market, sitting on the fringe of rural southern Appalachia,” said Grady Vanderhoofven, fund manager of Meritus Ventures, L.P. “As a fund that focuses specifically in this geographic area, we are enthusiastic about this investor syndicate. In addition, Windspeed and SunBridge should also be commended for their willingness to make an investment outside of the typical geography for venture capital activity.”
In addition to the investments from Windspeed, SunBridge Partners and Meritus, SCRA, a South Carolina-based leader in applied research and commercialization services, provided, through its SC Launch! affiliate, a $200,000 promissory note to Zipit Wireless. The note converted into the current Series A financing.
“The critical measurement of SC Launch! clients is the ability to achieve follow-on financing and we are delighted that Zipit Wireless has now accomplished this,” said Bill Mahoney, CEO of SCRA and acting president of SC Launch!. “We are pleased that Zipit Wireless, along with several of our initial SC Launch! clients, have been able to secure institutional-grade, follow-on funding and propel the technology and knowledge economy base in South Carolina.”
About Zipit Wireless Inc.
Zipit Wireless Inc. is a developer of consumer electronics headquartered in Greenville, S.C. The company focuses on wireless communication and entertainment devices that allow consumers to stay tapped into their world. In 2004, the company launched the Zipit Wireless Messenger, a low-cost portable IM device that connects to Wi-Fi wireless home networks or free “hotspots” and enables teens and pre-teens to chat away and enjoy their music collections with no service or per message fees, while eliminating the dependency on the family PC. For more information about Zipit Wireless Inc. and the Zipit Wireless Messenger, visit zipitwireless.com.
About Windspeed Ventures
Windspeed Ventures is an early stage venture investment firm that actively helps build high technology companies in the communications, security, media and internet services industries. The Windspeed team consists of former entrepreneurs whose goal is to share their relevant operating experience in building value in early stage businesses. For more information about Windspeed Ventures, visit windspeed.com.
About SunBridge Partners
SunBridge Partners is a U.S.-based venture capital firm pursuing a targeted, research-based approach to identifying and investing in private U.S. technology companies pioneering innovations based on advanced technologies in computing, communications and manufacturing, including materials, semiconductors, components, equipment and software.
SunBridge Partners' capacity for strategic guidance based on deep domain expertise, proven track record of assisting portfolio companies, and global network of contacts and partners providing international market insight and revenue opportunities make it a preferred and effective investment partner to the most promising of startup companies. For more information about SunBridge Partners, visit sunbridgepartners.com.
About Meritus Ventures, L.P.
Meritus Ventures is currently the only Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) in the United States. The $36M venture capital fund was formed to generate attractive returns for the fund’s investors while creating wealth and jobs in rural areas of central and southern Appalachia. In addition to providing equity capital, the fund may provide operational assistance to its potential and actual portfolio companies. For more details about the fund, visit meritusventures.com.
About SC Launch!
SC Launch!, an SCRA collaboration, assists entrepreneurial start-up companies with up-front counseling, seed-funding, and access to a powerful resource network. The SC Launch! mission is to help generate knowledge economy jobs in South Carolina, enhance the state’s quality of life and provide opportunity for all South Carolinians in the new economy. For more information please visit www.sclaunch.org.
SCRA is a global leader in applied research and commercialization services with offices in Anderson, Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina. SCRA collaborates to advance technology. SCRA provides technology-based solutions with assured outcomes to industry and government and with the help of research universities like Clemson University and the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina. For more information, please visit scra.org. SC Launch! is a trademark of SC Launch!, Inc. SCRA is a registered trademark of SCRA.