Locket, the Android application that puts ads and other content on your lockscreen, letting users earn small amounts of money every time they unlock their smartphone, has received an additional investment from Fierce Capital, LLC, the investment arm of The Tyra Banks Company. Smize, you guys, Tyra’s into Ad Tech now!
The size of the investment is not being disclosed, but the company is in the process of raising a round of funding in the millions, due to close next year. When that takes place, Banks won’t be the lead in that forthcoming round, for what it’s worth.
For those unfamiliar, Locket is a mobile application for Android smartphones launched this summer that places ads on the lockscreen, which users can choose to engage with by swiping. If you swipe one way, you can interact with the ad – for example, visiting a website, a Facebook page, getting a coupon, watching a movie trailer, and more – whatever the advertiser has in mind. If you’re not interested, just swipe the other way to unlock your phone as usual.
The company has already worked with dozens of well-known brands, including Hershey’s, HotelTonight, Sunny D, Sears, ZipCar, eBay, Spotify, and others, and advertisers report CTR’s on their campaigns ranging from 3 to 5 percent.
Users earn only pennies per hour for their swipes, so don’t expect to make a lot of money here. However, to encourage further user adoption, the company has been recently adding other content to the Locket experience, too, including things like weather, quotes, news, photos from 500px, and more. They’ve also just scored a content deal with another top app maker, which is also undisclosed for now.
According to Locket co-founder and CEO Yunha Kim, she was introduced to Tyra after StartupAgency co-founder Kevin Gould, whose firm helps startups with strategic investments, spotted Kim running across Times Square holding a laptop with the Locket sticker on its front. He introduced himself, said he was interested in Locket, and soon made the introduction that found Kim pitching directly to Banks herself.
“[Banks] loved the story around how we’re a Ramen noodle startup, and how I’m the only female on the team,” says Kim. “She liked that she was able to back a female entrepreneur.” She adds that Banks was well-prepared for the meeting, with several pages of questions that were in line with what other investors had her asked, too. (Oh, and after investing, Banks sent Kim a t-shirt reading “I’m a entrepreneur, b*tch”, pictured at right.)
This, of course, is not Banks’ first startup investment – she has also gone in on others like shopping site The Hunt, and photography app Flixel, which Banks has promoted heavily on her “Top Models” TV show.
With Locket, there may be room for more cross-promotion too – Banks has a cosmetics line which could become a Locket advertiser in the future, Kim says.
Update, 9:30 PM ET: Spokespersons for Banks reached out after publication to clarify that there is no confirmed cosmetic line or deal with Locket in place. However, they did say that Banks has several upcoming business ventures that could become Locket advertisers in the future.