Aloqa raises $1.5M for location-based mobile content

logoAloqa, a mobile search company that  sends you information about events, friends and other data based on your location, launched its first product today at MobileBeat: an app for Android-based devices.

The company also announced $1.5 million in first-round funding from Wellington Partners and angel investors, and the appointment of a new CEO, Sanjeev Agrawal, an ex-head of product marketing from Google and more recently vice president of products at TellMe Networks (now part of Microsoft).

Given that Aloqa is entering what seems to be the prime space right now in mobile search — other companies moving into location-aware search and discovery include biggies like Google and Nokia and other startups like Geodelic and Dopplr — the key to its success may lie in its partnerships.

In an email exchange, Agrawal told me that the company is looking at white-label services as well as retail operations. It will target the usual suspects and channels: directories, travel companies, coupon companies, games, events, etc.

“There are many, many examples of companies that we believe should create ‘location and context triggered’ versions of Aloqa,” he tells me. At the same time, Aloqa is sourcing content from some of these players for its own apps: Google, Yelp, and Eventful are link into Aloqa now. The company has an API so that any publisher could push content to their users on an Aloqa channel.

The company is also generating revenue by using the service to sell advertising based on users’ locations.

Unlike location-based services that rely on phones having GPS chips embedded in them, Aloqa uses information from a variety of sources — cell towers, Wi-Fi, and GPS if it happens to be in the phone — to identify where a user is. Then it uses this location to feed users local information. Agrawal says this data can prove to be accurate enough, and is less of a strain on battery life than GPS.

“For many applications CellID [from cell towers] and Wi-Fi are not only good enough but [are] also less battery and bandwidth expensive,” he says. “Having a GPS chip would…make it more precise, but CellID triangulation and WiFi can get close.”

The service will be available first on Android phones, but the company intends to extend it to other major mobile platforms soon.