News Over Audio in new fundraise drive
News narrator raises more cash ahead of new client deals
Dublin startup News Over Audio (Noa) - which styles itself as "the Spotify of Journalism" - has just closed a €300,000 funding round aimed at allowing it to continue expanding its partnerships with some of the world's best-known publishers.
The startup has developed a subscription-based service that provides daily audio versions of opinion and feature articles - read by professional narrators - from a range of international publishers including the Financial Times, Bloomberg and Business Insider, with further partnerships with major names in the industry expected to be added in the coming weeks.
The latest fundraising, which was close to €100,000 oversubscribed when it closed on Friday, is the second of three rounds of seed funding that will see the DIT Grangegorman-based startup raise a total of €800,000 by the end of November.
For this current €300,000 tranche, close to half was filled by existing shareholders using pre-emption rights. Investors are mainly Irish-based high-net-worth individuals with no Enterprise Ireland, Venture Capital or Angel involvement, it is understood.
"Our plan is to put this seed capital to work over the next 12 months and position the company for a larger equity raise in the latter half of 2019," said Noa CEO Gareth Hickey, who previously worked as an equity analyst with Susquehanna International Group in Dublin. "We're currently the largest producer and provider of audio-journalism in the world, and we seek to remain in this position as we grow on an international footing. This growth will require capital, there are no two ways around it. Our objective is to attract US-based investors with knowledge of their home market, as this is where the largest opportunity lies."
The company has also just released a redesigned version of its mobile app, which introduces a customisable queue, offline listening, and a personalised article feed.
"With Noa 2.0 we've built a simplified audio journalism app," said Noa chief product officer Shane Ennis. "We wanted to make content discovery across topics, journalists and publishers much easier. Two new features are 'My Feed' and 'Queue' which allow subscribers to tailor their listening experience, be they commuting, exercising or cooking. It's all about making news consumption more personalised."
Ennis said the company is already working on a third version of the app.
"That's where much of this additional funding will be spent. Noa 3.0 will be more of a personal tutor than an audio app, and will be available across web and smart speakers as well. It will guide listeners through the daily flow of headlines and make it extremely easy for them to stay informed with the most important topics."
Noa's total publisher count will grow from five to 12 by year end, and close to 20 within 12 months, said Hickey.
"We are also seeing large opportunities present in Germany, Australia, and Japan. In Germany we are in talks with some of the country's largest publishers for a German-language version of Noa. We expect to begin testing there later this year," he said.
"Our publisher count will double between now and the New Year. We have a big announcement to make in mid-September about a US-based publisher that will be coming on-board."
Sunday Indo Business