Agora Mobile, a Moncton startup that is developing a social network for app development, has raised $1 million in equity funding from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, East Valley Ventures and several angel investors.
NBIF said in a statement it invested $500,000 in the company, and the remainder came from members of East Valley Ventures and other angels.
Founded by CEO Simon Gauvin, Agora has set out to let anyone create apps that work on all mobile devices and that never have to be downloaded or updated. The company let users join a social network on which they can develop their own apps. They can share these apps with other people, sell them and use other people’s apps.
Agora’s patented system gives app builders – whether they are beginners or experts -- a visual development tool for the creation and testing of apps, so people don’t have to be able to write code to make apps.
The social network, which is called Vizwik, provides a platform for the delivery and sale of apps to its members - replacing the app store.
Agora has recruited hundreds of students of all ages across Atlantic Canada to build and test apps as the company fine-tunes its current version, now in private beta.
“This is a perfect example of what’s called disruptive innovation, and what we like to see,” said NBIF chair Robert Hatheway in the statement. “Companies that can take something that is currently very expensive and time consuming, and make it less expensive and more accessible to people that need it, but can’t afford to do the way it’s done right now.”
Gauvin told Entrevestor earlier this year he is looking for more people for an open beta-test in the autumn. Agora has a signup page at http://www.agoramobile.com. He believes the full launch and the introduction of an enterprise product will take place early next year.
The company has been financed so far through investment from individuals, though Gauvin declined to say how much money he’s received. He said the project has a “long runway”.
While taking his PhD in computer science at Dalhousie University, Gauvin developed his own programming language, which is more visual than standard languages. That means it’s more accessible because people tend to respond more positively to visual presentations than to letters, numbers and symbols.
The Agora Mobile team – which now numbers 11 members – has developed Vizwik as a patented platform-as-a-service, which serves as the foundation of the social network. It works across all smartphone platforms. People can sign up free, add friends like on Facebook or have followers like on Twitter.