Ontela's Dan Shapiro Named Best Mobile Company CEO

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Early struggles pay off as VentureBeat honors Seattle startup executive.

After spending six months courting every well-networked investor and early stage venture firm, CEO Dan Shapiro had succeeded in raising exactly zero dollars for Ontela Inc, the wireless startup he co-founded in 2005. Despite the resounding silence from professional investors about the company - headquartered in his basement - Shapiro was undeterred.

"We knew we had a great product; everyone from wireless executives to coffee shop baristas told us they needed it," recalled Shapiro. "We were burning to get this solution in to the market. It was just a long, slow climb to convince investors to see the value as well."

That was three years ago, and today investors are not so hesitant about Ontela's prospects as a company. This spring Ontela announced a Series B investment round of $10.3 million led by Steamboat Ventures. The enthusiasm comes during a tremendous year for the Seattle wireless startup. Ontela has announced the resounding success of its first carrier customer, Cellular South, and followed that with carrier launches on Alltel, Cincinnati Bell, and nTelos. This was followed quickly by recognition from the CTIA for having the "Best mobile entertainment/social networking application" in an international contest that culminated at the CTIA 2008 conference.

The weeks leading up to VentureBeat's MobileBeat 2008 conference were exciting, as a poll of VentureBeat readers put Ontela on the short list for an award. It was a dramatic awards ceremony starting with Ontela being named "Top 10" and then culminating with Shapiro being named as mobile's "Best CEO". The panel of industry experts awarding the Tesla Prize stated that Ontela was notable for "setting its sights on selling to carriers, pursuing them with single-minded focus, and succeeding."

When asked about the ingredients to his success, Shapiro reported, "That's easy - I've got a team and a product that make me look good! If it wasn't for them, we'd still be in the basement."

Ontela has 35 employees and is hiring fast. The company is now located in Seattle's historic Smith Tower.

About Ontela:
Ontela provides technology infrastructure to wireless carriers that allows consumers to unlock the photos in their camera phones. Currently available on carrier networks including Cellular South, Alltel, Cincinnati Bell, and nTelos, PicDeck™ technology allows consumers to automatically save their photos to their PC, email address, and/or favorite imaging web sites. Ontela is backed by Steamboat Ventures, Oak Investment Partners, Hunt Ventures, and Voyager Capital and headquartered in Seattle, WA. For more information, visit http://www.ontela.com.

MEDIA CONTACTS:            
Rob Newton
Ontela, Inc.
(206) 940-7942
rob @ ontela.com


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