A Q&A with AllUnite co-founder and CEO Esben Elmoe. The Copenhagen-based startup, which offers a proximity marketing solution based on free Wi-Fi, completed a $3.7 million Series A funding round led by Northzone, which it announced earlier this week. It was founded in 2013 by Elmoe and Kasper Gevaldig.
SUB: Please describe AllUnite and your primary innovation.
Elmoe: In AllUnite we are injecting banners from local shops while the users are surfing on the AllUnite network. We also provide business intelligence for our customers in terms of number of people passing the shop, recurring visitors, etc.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Elmoe: We target markets in Europe, Asia, U.S. and South America. We are currently selling in 50 countries. Our target users are people physically shopping, staying at restaurants, etc.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates AllUnite from the competition?
Elmoe: Our competitors are Apple iBeacon, Baidu proving free Wi-Fi in China, Cloud.net, etc. We differentiate primarily in focus on making money for our customers through our advertising platform.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $3.7 million in Series A funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Elmoe: We want to scale AllUnite fast in 50 countries, and this requires funding.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds, and do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Elmoe: We expect to raise additional funds later in the process to keep the growth and expand the business even further.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for AllUnite? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Elmoe: We were sitting in an airport with no free Wi-Fi, and wanted to go on the Internet. We could see all closed Wi-Fi networks from Avis, restaurants, shops, etc., and we thought it was stupid that they didn’t use the channel to promote their offers. That’s what we are solving in AllUnite—making local offers based on free Internet.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Elmoe: We hired some developers to build the product, and began writing the vision, finding the name, the brand identity, etc.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Elmoe: Our goal and vision is to have shops share their Internet and collaborate together to attract local customers. We want to create local families of shops from restaurants, clothes shops, hairdressers, etc. collaborating to attract more customers. That’s why we liked the name ‘AllUnite,’ because it’s the core of what we do. We unite physical shops to attract more customers.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Elmoe: Expanding to 50 countries with a new concept in 50 weeks means that not all processes and countries are running smoothly—it’s key to streamline our processes to keep the growth of AllUnite.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Elmoe: Currently we generate revenue through our subscription model for the AllUnite boxes. In the future, we expect that most revenue will come from selling local ads on our platform.
SUB: What are your goals for AllUnite over the next year or so?
Elmoe: Our goal is to be the platform for free Internet and local advertising, uniting local shops to attract more customers.