GENWI raises $4 mn for publishing platform

GENWI raises $4 mn for publishing platform

Mumbai: Nexus Venture Partners has led a $4 million investment in 20-month-old start-up GENWI Inc. that helps businesses build apps for mobile devices and is founded by Bangalore-born P.J. Gurumohan.

The investment in the Los Altos, California based-company, comes at a time when it is planning to expand into India and the South-East Asian markets.

GENWI’s existing investors Inventus Capital Partners and Quest Venture Partners, who had invested $1.1 million in 2010, also participated in the current round of funding.

GENWI, which offers cloud-based platforms for publishing content on tablets and smartphones, currently manages more than 1,500 apps for nearly 2,000 publishers.

As opposed to custom building applications for each device form, GENWI allows publishers to publish once and deliver interactive apps across all smart mobile devices—including those based on Apple Inc’s iOS mobile operating system, Google Inc’s Android, and Opera Software’s HTML5.

Nexus’s principal Jishnu Bhattacharjee, who is joining the board of the start-up, said market dynamics have changed tremendously in terms of consumption of content, particularly because of the arrival of smartphones and notebooks.

“GENWI brings together mobility and cloud computing. The combination will accelerate the transformation that tablets and smartphones are bringing in the modes of media consumption," said Bhattacharjee.

Nexus has taken a minority stake in the company, he said but declined to provide more details. “India itself is a huge market. More than two million Android phones are added per month," Bhattacharjee said.

GENWI, which counts Forbes, Vans Shoes, and Cox Media among its customers, said the funds raised will be utilized for building infrastructure and an extensive app network to offer more advanced monetization, and distribution features for publishers.

“A primary focus of the funding efforts will also be a full global expansion of the service, as well as development of multilingual functionality. There is a huge Android market in India," said Gurumohan, chief executive of GENWI, on the phone from the US.

GENWI’s expects the partnership with Nexus to open doors for it, particularly in India, a market that it is entering. “They (Nexus) have a strong presence in India, South-East Asia and the US. These are the markets we are focused on. We are partnering with Nexus’ portfolio companies like Vdopia Inc. and are looking at more such opportunities," said Gurumohan.

Making money by providing publishing platforms is a difficult market to crack, particularly in India, said Deepak Srinath, director of Bangalore-based boutique investment bank Viedea Capital Advisors (P) Ltd, which specializes in Internet and mobile deals. “It’s a long tail business. Unless one gets really big publishers, catching eyeballs is difficult," said Srinath.

He further said that the company also faces competition from individual app developers who customize offering according to customers’ requirements.

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