Solavei, which rewards customers for signing up friends, family and co-workers for its wireless service, has scored $2 million in fresh funding from boutique investment banking firm Clark Dodge & Company, GeekWire has learned. The cash is part of a larger financing round that is expected to close in the coming months, and it brings total funding in Solavei to $25 million.
At the end of 2012, Solavei boasted more than 100,000 members. And the business continues to grow fast, with a total of $180,000 members. Just this week, Fierce Wireless reported that Solavei was looking to top $100 million in revenue in its first full year of operation.
The wireless service provider, which piggybacks on T-Mobile’s network, also is working on a new “marketplace” program which would reward its members with discounts of two to 15 percent at participating retailers. The program is expected to start in September in partnership with First Data.
“Solavei Marketplace will provide our members, in addition to having mobile service, the opportunity to save and earn income from many of the same goods and services brands that they are already using,” said a company spokesman. “This next phase continues to fulfill our mission of being a social commerce company.”
Fierce Wireless reports that Ace Hardware, Walmart, JCPenny, Burger King, Outback Steakhouse and Kmart will participate in the new marketplace program.
Solavei has drawn comparisons to multi-level marketing giants such as Amway, and its service has drawn plenty of criticism among readers who’ve debated the merits of the business.
Solavei charges $49 per month for wireless service. However, members can earn $20 per month for every three customers they sign up, dubbed a “trio.”
Led by former Ryan Wuerch, Solavei’s backers include Jonathan Miller, the chief digital officer at News Corp. and former CEO of AOL; David Limp, vice president of Kindle at Amazon.com; and Gary Adams, an oil & gas executive from Oklahoma.
Previously on GeekWire: Cee Lo Green and Stephen Baldwin stump for controversial wireless startup Solavei
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