Perhaps no startup in the Seattle area has driven as much discussion and debate in recent weeks as Solavei, a young upstart that plans to begin offering a new $49 per wireless service next month in which users earn cash for signing up friends, family members and co-workers. The public debut of Solavei’s multilevel marketing offering is still a few weeks away, now slated for September 21. But the company’s appetite for investment dollars does not appear to be slowing down.
In a SEC filing today, the company — led by former former Congressman Rick White and former Motricity CEO Ryan Wuerch — indicated that it has raised $6 million. It’s part of an ongoing series B round which we covered last month, with total funding in the company no coming in at more than $10 million.
Investors in the company 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.
Despite those big names, not everyone is a believer in the concept with some equating it to a pyramid scheme. In an interview with GeekWire last month White said that Solavei plans to follow the rules associated with multilevel marketing companies.
“You’ve got a new era coming here where the whole phenomenon of social networking is making the idea of people-to-people marketing a lot different, and a lot more exciting than it used to be,” said White, who is leading legal and policy for Solavei. “If you are a multilevel marketer, there are some rules you have to follow and … we will follow all of those rules that apply to us. We really think we are doing something just a little different. We are trying to take a new era of social networking, and all of the tools we have available, and try to figure out a way to monetize that for consumers, not just the company.”
Solavei employs about 140 full-time employees and contractors, and it has already lined up thousands of associates who’ve agreed to test and market the new service once it goes live. In fact, according to a message on the company’s Web site, more than 30,000 people have pre-registered for Solavei membership. “The response has been incredible,” according to the message, which is used to promote an August 22nd online presentation that they’re already dubbing “the world’s largest webinar.”
Previous GeekWire story and discussion: Solavei raises $3.6M, touts $49 per month mobile service that rewards you with cash for signing on others