Instabridge, the Wi-Fi sharing community and mobile app, appears to be on somewhat of a roll, including (and perhaps unsurprisingly) finding a lot of traction in developing markets where the draw to Wi-Fi over cellular data is particularly prevalent. The startup’s iOS and Android app acts as a Wi-Fi locator and manager, powered by a crowdsourced database of Wi-Fi hotspots. All of which hasn’t gone unnoticed by investors.
Today Instabridge is disclosing that it’s raised a $3 million Series A round led by Stockholm-based MOOR and London-based Balderton Capital. The round also includes previous backer Creandum, in addition to Swisscom Ventures, the venture arm of mobile operator Swisscom.
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 pivoted to become the broader Wi-Fi sharing community that it is today. The app lets you share the details of any Wi-Fi hotspot with other Instabridge users, and provides access to Wi-Fi hotspots shared by everyone else in the community.
In addition, Instabridge 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 its most basic form, Instabridge is a complete replacement to the phone’s Wi-Fi manager,” Instabridge co-founder and CEO Niklas Agevik told TechCrunch last October. “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.”
In an email, Agevik tells me Instabridge will use the new investment to grow its community in more markets “and continue developing our core software to truly act as a ‘SIM-card for Wi-Fi'”. This will include improving the app’s ability to make intelligent decisions on when to connect or disconnect from a certain Wi-Fi point.
“As we collect more data and get more Wi-Fi networks we can make even better decisions for when to connect/disconnect from Wi-Fi based on past usage,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Instabridge is free to use and there are no immediate plans to monetise the app. “Our goal right now is to build out the network and monetise the service later, either through a WhatsApp-style model, ads or premium service,” says Agevik.