Multimedia messaging platform Pinnatta has raised $1.5 million in Series A funding, it was announced on Wednesday.
The funding came from Greek venture capital firms Odyssey Venture Partners and PJ Tech Catalyst. The company had previously secured investments from international investors, including i-FREE from Russia, Cherubic Ventures from China, and private investors from the U.S such as Andrew Wright, Tasso Argyros, and Stamos Venios. The Pinnatta has now raised $2.2 million to date.
The funds will be used to launch the updated version of the Pinnatta app, which will be "coming out shortly," George Spanoudakis, co-founder and CEO of Pinnatta, told me an interview.
"It will also help us add some more talented people to our teams in the US and Greece. Currently we are looking for a few top-notch engineers, a marketing manager, a product designer and other key roles."
Founded in July 2011, and headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, Pinnatta is a mobile messaging platform that allows people to exchange interactive messages with each other.
Here is how it works: lets say a user has a friend who has a birthday. The app comes with a large collection of Happy Birthday “Pinnattas” that can be sent directly to that person's smartphone.
The sender can choose a Pinnatta that has a birthday cake and candles on it, for example, which can then be personalized by adding their friend's name, choose the number of candles and add a personal text onto the card.
When the friend opens the message, there will be Happy-birthday music, they can see the cake with their name on it and they will then have to blow on their phone to extinguish the birthday candles. After the candles have been blown out, they will also get the personalized message from the sender.
Another example is a message that would require the recipient to unfold virtual origami to reveal a custom message. The app forces the person who receives the message to physically interact with it, making it into a combination of a text message and a greeting card.
The app creates rich and unique multimedia experiences that leverage the latest smartphone capabilities. And it is that interactive element of the app that separates it from other companies in the mobile messaging space.
"Pinnatta is the only app that uses the latest smartphone and operating system capabilities to offer interactive messages that require recipients to shake, swipe, pinch, or blow on their phones in order to reveal the message," Spanoudakis told me.
"Pinnatta is a really simple, really fast way to send a greeting to someone that is way more thoughtful and heartfelt than a simple SMS text, voice message or other any other type of traditional message."
Pinnatta is currently available for iOS and Android, with the Windows Phone and iPad versions launching by the end of the year.
Ultimately, Spanoudakis says that goal for Pinnatta is for it to be the “personal happiness channel” for its users.
"Smartphones are such personal devices, and with each new generation of devices there are a whole slew of new technologies and unique features that we want tap into in order to help people communicate in unique and interesting ways."
Right now, the app has a library of more than 500 messages covering for occasions such as holidays, birthdays and anniversaries as well as everyday communications like “Good morning” and “I love you.”
It currently has more than 130,000 installs and Spanoudakis expects that number to climb to more than 500,000 by the end of the year.
The app makes money through the sending or premium content, with Pinnattas that are more sophisticated and customizable. The premium Pinnattas can be purchased within the app for $0.99, $1.99 or $2.99 depending on the Pinnatta.
Users can also spend $4.99 a month for the ability to send unlimited free and Premium Pinnattas.
The second revenue model is based on sponsored content, with free Pinnattas that also include brand or product placement.
For example, there could be a “Let’s go for coffee” Pinnatta, with the coffee cup showing a coffee related brand.
"We want it to make sense and fit in naturally with the Pinnatta and not be disruptive to the user. With our backend infrastructure, we are able to allow brands to target very specific audiences and promote themselves in an indirect but at the same time interactive and innovative way," said Spanoudakis.
The company also has development offices in Athens, in order to "help revive the Greek economy by injecting a bit of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial spirit into it."