MSIF has invested £80k to support the expansion of a business that has developed digital advertising boards on the city’s black taxis.
Open Messenger has been developed by local entrepreneur Mike Smith who is based at the Baltic Triangle.
The digital messenger boards allow advertisers to tailor their promotional messages on Hackney taxis to real-time conditions, such as local weather, location and time.
MSIF’s £80k is the first tranche of an investment totalling £160k and is part of a £245k funding package which includes the director’s own investment. He previously raised £200k to fund the research and development phase.
Managing director Mike Smith said: “Content can be uploaded within 15 seconds so we can react easily to external circumstance and adapt the content accordingly."
“We also act as a mouthpiece for the city, giving regular traffic and weather updates, providing emergency notifications or sharing/appealing for information about missing persons or crime."
“There are currently 20 taxis on the road with our screens installed and we hope there will be around 40 before the end of the year."
“It has taken a lot of work to get to where we are now and we have had lots of support from [ and expertise available here."
“We’ve worked closely with the commercial/IP team at Brabners who, as well as giving legal/IP advice, have provided strategic guidance in key areas. This is vital for us because we will be fundraising again soon as we look to roll out the brand and service across the UK and investors need to see a solid business strategy."
“As well as MSIF we’ve had support through the Business Growth Service which helped us with our financial planning to enable us to get funding and we have been working closely with Brabners Stuart for corporate finance advice."
“As a Liverpool company we want to put something back into the city and we source all our parts locally. We also pay hackney drivers to be brand ambassadors and having a good working relationship with Unite union benefits independent drivers."
“Our aim now is to continue to increase the number of units here in Liverpool and roll out the concept in other cities.”
MSIF investment director Paul Humphray said: “Open Messenger has developed a much smarter way to advertise. The medium is constantly moving giving it the potential to reach thousands of consumers each day."
“Mike is very knowledgeable about the industry and has put a lot of hard work into their research and development. We are very pleased to supporting the venture and believe the business has significant growth potential.”
Nik White head of Brabners commercial/IP team said: “The way the software responds to external conditions is an extremely valuable tool for advertisers. For example, if a taxi is in an area which is popular with students it could advertise student nights or clothing ranges aimed at that age range."
“Open Messenger is a really exciting business and a great example of Liverpool’s thriving creative and digital sector. There is huge potential for the business to expand and we look forward to continuing to work with Mike and the team through the next phase of the company’s development.”
Open Messenger currently employs 5 staff and expects to take on a further 10 during the next 3 years.