While many ‘social audio’ startups like Audioboo, SoundCloud and Cinch continue to battle each other on the consumer field, there is one company that, while offering a consumer service, is starting to get a considerable amount of traction in the business and enterprise space – largely ignored by the consumer players.
ipadio, bills itslef as a live phone-casting company, and for a while it looked a lot like AudioBoo or Soundcloud. But today it’s secured a £1m ($1.6m) investment from the London Business Angels network, Nemisys (the company that founded ipadio) and backing from the UK government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme. The company is initially taking just over £700k, with the remainder available later in 2011. The investment will be used to expand the business. It has a number of clever new products like ‘Voice Forms’ and is developing the high-definition live streaming of phone calls to the web.
Founded in 2009, ipadio live-links the telephony system to the Internet. That means consumer can just “call in” audio, instead of having to use data via the company’s iPhone or Android app and then cross post to social media platforms. Here are some examples from the recent turmoil in Egypt, where the calls were literally called-in, without the need for a smartphone app.
But this independence from smartphones also means, for instance, an engineer in the field can call in to a companies network to report on their work, or the company in turn can send new information to workers out and about. It can also geo-locate there a phone call is coming from based on the triangulation of cell towers, handy for enterprise apps.
The new investment is largely on the back of iPadio’s clear direction towards using voice to improve internal company communications in new and interesting ways. The focus on having a real business model did not hurt: Anthony Clarke, the CEO of the London Business Angels says, “although raising money in the present economic climate is not easy, what attracted the LBA to join this round was the ipadio management’s evident ability to use the ipadio technology to deliver real business benefits.”
Dr Mark K. Smith, ipadio founder and co-inventor, told me “the growth of ipadio has been like holding onto the tail of a tiger: phonecasts from unusual places and during troubled times makes the ipadio network buzz, though what has attracted investors is that we have secured significant corporate contracts… That means using the ipadio technology to solve previously intractable problems for national and international organisations, especially those with large and mobile workforces.”
Thus ipadio has managed to bring in clients including The Vodafone Foundation, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Virgin Media, HomeServe, academic institutions worldwide and several others, largely in the UK, alongside the “tens of thousands” of consumer users who are attracted to its platform and help to kick the tyres on new services which ipadio can roll out to enterprises.