Raylo, a smartphone subscription company co-founded by two northerners, has raised $11.5 million (€9.7 million).
The deal brings to $40 million the total raised by the company to date.
Founded in 2019 by Karl Gilbert, Richard Fulton and Jinden Badesha, the London-headquartered company has a customer services and credit control Centre in Mr Gilbert's home town of Belfast.
Octopus Ventures, which led a £8.25 million seed funding round for the company earlier this year, returned to lead the latest investment. Other key investors in the Series A round included Macquarie Group, Guy Johnson of Carphone Warehouse and the co-founders of Funding Circle.
The new funding will be used to double staff count, Raylo said. The company currently employs about 30 people across London and Belfast.
Raylo, whose other backers include Invest Northern Ireland and TechStart NI, operates a smartphone leasing platform that allows customers to lease new and refurbished devices fora minimal monthly cost with benefits such as insurance against loss, theft and accidental damage.
The company is aiming to help consumers to move beyond the two-year “buy-and-dispose” cycle that sees smartphone owners updating devices on a regular basis. It says “old” devices that usually end up being thrown into drawers and cupboards are typically only used for half of their potential lifespan with some 125 million devices in “hibernation” in Britain alone.
Raylo is seeking to ensure that every smartphone can instead be enjoyed by a total of three customers over six to seven years – a lifespan almost 200 per cent longer than the current average of 2.31 years.
“We believe leasing delivers a fundamentally better experience and value for customers, and a materially more sustainable outcome for all of us,” said Mr Gilbert.
“We want to be known for leading the change in how people access consumer tech. And over the next six to 12 months we’ll be expanding both our product range and distribution channels,” he added.
Mr Gilbert said the company’s main priority over the near future is to continue growing in Britain. But he expressed interest in expanding into Ireland and other regions at a future date.