Instabridge, an Android app that wants to replace your phone’s default Wi-Fi manager and give you access to a crowdsourced database of Wi-Fi hotspots, has bagged a $1 million seed round. Funding is being led by European VC Creandum, with participation from GP Bullhound, and a number of angel investors, including Niall Murphy (former CTO of TheCloud), Scott Bannister and Felix Hagnö (co-founder and former CTO of TradeDoubler).
Originally founded in late 2012 as a way to enable you to share your home Wi-Fi with friends on Facebook, the Stockholm-based startup has since pivoted somewhat to become a broader Wi-Fi sharing community. The Instabridge Android app lets you share the details of any Wi-Fi hotspot with other Instabridge users, and gives you access to Wi-Fi hotspots shared by everyone else in the community.
In addition, the app comes pre-loaded with a database of venues that have free Wi-Fi, such as McDonald’s or Starbucks. These are usually shown on a map, but can also be navigated to using your phone’s compass.
“In it’s most basic form, Instabridge is a complete replacement to the phone’s Wi-Fi manager,” Instabridge co-founder and CEO Niklas Agevik tells TechCrunch. “The Wi-Fi part of your phone has looked the same for the past 15 years. And rethinking that is exciting. With Instabridge you can use it to connect to Wi-Fi like you normally do but with our superpowers.”
As an example of those “superpowers,” Agevik cites Instabridge’s ability to back up your Wi-Fi networks in the cloud and sync them with any of your other devices running the app, such as a tablet. Instabridge also gives you a heads up if a Wi-Fi network is open network or requires you to log in/pay.
“And on top of that it helps you find the closest Wi-Fi spot or get connected to free Wi-Fi where you are right now,” he says.
In terms of metrics, Instabridge says users are adding over 1,000 networks per day, and that each day 20,000 connections are made to Instabridge-located hotspots. Noteworthy, the app is finding most take up in emerging markets, such as Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and India, along with Spain, Netherlands, Canada and the U.S.
“There’s a lot of free Wi-Fi from different providers but I think our USP is that we merge them all into one app, making them easy to find,” adds Agevik. “There are some other similar apps that automatically connect you to open Wi-Fi networks or help you find Wi-Fi. But what sets Instabridge apart is the community of users sharing Wi-Fi, making sure you get more Wi-Fi by using Instabridge and also ensuring that WiFi listed in Instabridge actually works — something we work really hard on.”
Meanwhile, Instabridge, which is currently pre-revenue, says today’s newly-announced funding will be used to accelerate development of the startup’s Android app, with an iPhone version planned for release shortly.