Steve Baxter’s investment syndicate TEN13 and LA-based angel investor Kate Vale, Google Australia’s first employee, are part of a US$1.3 million (AU$1.8m) seed round for audio platform Vurbl, which hopes to become the YouTube of audio.
The startup, which is in beta and will launch before the end of the year also attracted support from LA venture funds AlphaEdison, Jessie Draper’s Halogen Ventures, and several others.
The cash will be used to develop and launch the Vurbl platform with over 25 million pieces of audio and podcasts creating a place for content creatures, curators and listeners.
Vurbl was co-founded by Audra Gold, a former VP Product at Viacom, and VP Product at digital advertising infrastructure company Rubicon Project. She’s also CEO and hopes to solve the problem of search and discovery in the audio market, where no platform has yet emerged, as the de facto home for all things audio.
The creator-first, free streaming audio platform will have 40 categories, including podcasts, when it launches later before Christmas. Just like YouTube, Vurbl allows content creators to upload, earn subscribers and monetise their work. With audio snippets, listeners and creators can take their favorite part of any of the audio on the platform then “snip it” to save it, share it or add it to a playlist.
Gold said it was challenging to raise money and build the Vurbl platform from home amidst a global pandemic, but the team rose to the challenge.
“If anything, we all worked harder toward the launch of the product because the need for a service like Vurbl continued to increase during lockdown and we aim to deliver a great audio product the whole family can enjoy,” she said.
“Given the current climate, we think the timing is perfect to build the largest user generated content audio site in the world and become an essential global digital media destination for those seeking information and entertainment through audio.”
TEN13 partner Stew Glynn said Vurbl could become the global leader in its sector.
“Vurbl has the potential to open up an entirely new audio market for listeners, creators and brands. This platform could change the way we consume audio on the internet,” he said
“It has a seriously capable founding team, and their timing is spot on. It’s not often that investors in Australia have the opportunity to access a deal of this nature, and we are excited to be among the first money on the table to back Audra and her team.
Kate Vale, the former Spotify ANZ MD and a NED on ASX-listed e-sports media and software business Mogul (ASX: ESH) said it was fantastic to be backing a female founder.
“It’s not often as a venture capital investor that you see a business where the stars are aligning between the vision of the founder, the technical capability of the team and the opportunity of the market,” she said.
“And this is only the start, keep your ears tuned for Vurbl’s launch later this year – it is going to be something special.”
The pre-launch website is vurbl.com.