Invi, a startup trying to integrate a broad range of media into the texting experience, is launching on Google Play today. It’s also announcing a seed round of $750,000 from Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Ventures, Atlantic Bridge, and various angel investors.
Co-founder Iddo Tal argued that texting has become “totally unattached from what the smartphone can do.” If someone wants to share an image from Pinterest or a video from YouTube, it’s a clunky experience. They’ll probably send you a link, which means you have to leave the conversation behind while you open up a browser or a separate app.
So invi allows you to view that content directly within the app. Tal and his co-founder Lior Gonnen returned repeatedly to the example of watching a YouTube video, but the service also integrates with other platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest — not just for viewing content, but for sharing it, too.
Even if you send a link to a service that invi doesn’t integrate with directly, the app will still create what Gonnen called “a beautiful, interactive widget” previewing the linked website. (I don’t have an Android device, so I had to go by the team’s description and the screenshots that they sent.) Eventually, Tal and Gonnen said they want to turn invi into a platform where other developers can integrate their services with the app, too.
The app is free. Tal said there are a number of possible revenue streams, including referral fees if someone uses the app to purchase content.
To illustrate invi’s usefulness, Tal said he has a friend who’s always texting him with links to “YouTube clips of him doing stuff.” If his friend was sending those links as a regular text message, Tal would have to tap the link, opening up the YouTube app to watch the video — or he might just ignore the links altogether. With invi, he can watch the videos without leaving the app and, for example, send a message to his friend about what a terrible guitarist he is while the video plays.
Tal and Gonnen both sounded enthusiastic about launching exclusively on Android, but they said they want to reach a cross-platform audience, so they’re ready to look for team members who can build iOS and Windows apps, as well.
UpWest Labs was founded in January 2012 in Silicon Valley as the only accelerator program in the US serving Israeli entrepreneurs. To date, the program has enabled over 70 Israeli entrepreneurs to build their product closer to their market, establish strong partnerships and create valuable product momentum. The accelerator provides a mentorship-based three month program, offering startups a small seed investment, essential resources, and access to a robust network of experts, customers and capital. UpWest Labs allows Israeli teams to benefit...
Horizons Ventures is a Hong-Kong based investment company focused on early-stage companies in the field of telecommunications, media & technology. Notable investments include early-stage rounds in Facebook, Spotify, and Siri (pre-acquisition).
Atlantic Bridge is a private equity firm with offices in Dublin and London, focusing on Middle Market Technology investments across Europe, with a strong emphasis on a transatlantic business building and investment exit model. We focus on making domain-specific investments in late-stage venture capital, growth capital and buy-out transactions. The Atlantic Bridge portfolio currently consists of companies in the communications technology, semiconductor and software sectors. Atlantic Bridge brings together a unique team of technology entrepreneurs, experienced managers, finance professionals and...