U2opia Mobile, a Singapore and Gurgaon-based mobile tech company, has launched a startup program, Catapult, plans to invest $3 Mn over a period of three years. With this, it aims to provide early-stage startups and entrepreneurs, a platform for growing and scaling products to a global audience.

The applications have been invited from startups in the telecom, mobile advertising, utility apps, and mobile gaming space. The startups will be working from company’s office in Gurgaon.

Under this program, five to six teams each year will be given access to state of the art technology infrastructure, ample working space, brand and marketing support, management and financial cover, along with a chance to leverage on U2opia mobile’s global distribution channel in over 60 countries.

To qualify for the program, startups need to have a product that has global focus, a proven history of user traction, a validated plan for user growth and should be within 2 years in business. The shortlisted teams will be incubated for a period of six months. The early traction and momentum for these teams will determine the next course of growth.

Sumesh Menon, Co-Founder and MD at U2opia Mobile believes that the investment sentiment in market indicates a prolonged winter for startups. And, as an entrepreneur himself, he understands the challenges and uncertainties that other entrepreneurs, when the market is in downturn, face. With Catapult, he aims provide entrepreneurs a chance to work on their dream projects, and get the needed support.

“We have the market, we have the distribution channel and we have the infrastructure, but we need more innovative ideas to support that. So, we are inviting these people to come and build innovative ideas and great products. If any of the company grows and scales further, it can actually exit, and raise funding from other investors, or it can continue to stay within U2opia, and continue growing as a product within the family,” added Sumesh.

With Catapult, U2opia also has plans to enter into mobile gaming and mobile advertising space.

“We haven’t seen any phenomenal products yet, but we think there is a lot of innovation going on this space especially mobile gaming. As per KPCB report, we have second largest internet base in the world and with such large Internet base, mobile advertising will going to be the next biggest market also. And any technology that can help improve that efficiency, we will be more than happy to work with,” said Sumesh.

U2opia Mobile was launched in May 2011 by Suresh Menon and Ankit Nautiyal. The company is backed by marquee investors such as Matrix Partners and Omidyar Network. It has operations from Singapore, Delhi, Dubai, and San Francisco. Over the span of 5 years, U2opia Mobile has inked strategic relationships with over 80 mobile network operators, globally.

It has three flagship products, Fonetwish – that enables ubiquitous and customised access to the social internet on USSD; Fonepass – a sponsored data platform that excites customers with possibilities of data and Foneverify – a user authentication tool for businesses application economy. The solutions are popular with mobile operators  in Asia, Africa, Latin America and addresses a global user base of 1 Bn.

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