Mobile Price Card Inc., which makes an application so buyers can see prices and technical details on the screens of mobile devices at retailers, said Monday it has closed an $850,000 investment round and plans to more than double its workforce during the next six months.
CEI Ventures Inc., Maine Venture Fund, Maine Angels and Bangor Angels invested in the Series A round, which is a combination of debt and promissory notes that the company expects to turn into equity next year, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Downs said. He said the company wanted to apply for the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit, but since the funds were expended for the year, it decided to start with the debt offering.
“We are excited to invest in developing innovation in Maine,” CEI Ventures Principal Chandler Jones said in a statement. “We expect the company to meet CEI’s mission by creating quality jobs with strong benefits while also providing a suitable return on our investment.”
Downs said the company will use the money to expand and add features to the application, including multilingual language support so that eventually it could be sold overseas. The company sells in 22 states now through 18 customers with 500 locations, including Carolina West in North Carolina, GCI in Alaska and various Verizon agents.
The application can be seen in the Verizon store at 570 Stillwater Ave. in Bangor.
The company has four employees in an office in the Key Bank building at 23 Water St. in Bangor, plus independent developers and accountants working with it.
It plans to add four more employees in the next six months as it grows and expands the product’s features. Downs said those hirees will be a customer service person, a salesperson, a project manager and a visual designer. Eight more people will be hired within a few years as the company expands.
The company started in Portland in 2016. CEO Chad O’Leary owned six Verizon stores and Downs was in marketing at Wireless Zone, a Verizon authorized dealer, when they met. Downs said O’Leary wanted a solution to improve accuracy when updating the rapidly changing prices, especially on phones using the Android operating system. Prices of iPhones tend to stay more stable.
The two came up with a solution to eliminate the printed price cards in front of phones in retail stores and instead use an app that shows the price and specifications of each phone.
Downs said the app, which each retail store downloads and updates with prices and specifications, has three screens that automatically show up on each phone with information specific to it.
One has the price. The second shows technical details such as the screen size, type of camera and battery life. And the third shows relevant ads, including price promotions. Consumers can minimize the size of the application by touching the screen so they can use other features of the phone as they are shopping, he said.
The company, which originally thought it could find the best talent pool in Portland, moved to Bangor in August for two reasons, Mason said. One is O’Leary is from Bangor. The second is that the company found a ready talent pool in Bangor, especially with the University of Maine nearby.
“Our technology is unique and invents an entirely new way to market mobile devices to consumers,” O’Leary added. “We chose Maine as our headquarters because of the talent, warmth, character and industrious spirit of Mainers. This funding will help us ramp up our technology development and grow our team to accelerate growth.”
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Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Beacon Angels invested in the Series A round. That information, supplied by Mobile Price Card, was incorrect.