Doug Richard raises $6.5m for Trutap expansion

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The Independent Online

Former Dragons' Den judge Doug Richard has raised a further $6.5m (£3.2m) for his new venture, Trutap, a free mobile phone service targeted at 18 to 24-year-olds.

The latest funding doubles the amount of cash raised by Richard for the company, which lets mobile users send instant messages to friends via companies such as MSN and Yahoo!, as well as offering blog and photo-sharing sites. The latest tranche of investment comes from Tudor Investment Corporation a US financial group.

"We see huge market demand in our service," said Richard. "This new infusion of capital will enable us to continue broadening our services and accelerate our leadership position in the industry." Trutap already operates in over 200 countries with plans in place to broaden its geographic scope in the coming months.

"Our key market is the 18 to 24-year-olds who feel real anxiety when they are unable to communicate with their friends continuously," said Richard.

"Missing out on recent news, a piece of gossip, a new picture, a drink invite or a night out with pals is a real concern to them."

The continued roll-out of Trutap, as well as commitments with his other venture, Library House, which provides data on fast-growing European companies, is thought to have stopped Richard from returning for another stint on Dragons' Den.

During his time on the programme he made just three investments. "One company is going OK, another has gone out of business and another one has not happened yet," said Richard.