This Malaysian startup aims to turn sound waves into money -- and it just raised funding

VAV secures US$556,000 from Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (ADIF), which is managed by Intres Capital Partners

By Anisa Menur A. Maulani


VAV co-founders Addie Leong Qi Jie (left) and Alden Leong Qi Wen

Sound media technology solutions startup VAV (pronounced “wave”) today announced that it has raised a RM2.5 million (US$556,000) funding from Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (ADIF), which is a fund managed by Intres Capital Partners.

In a press statement, the Kuala Lumpur-based company said that it will use the funding to finance technical deployment of its soundwave-based solutions and accelerate commercialisation in Malaysia. It is also looking explore overseas markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, and China, in which the company had secured a partnership with Nanning-based NNTV.

“This timely injection of fund by ADIF will allow VAV to fast track and gear up the marketing of the VAV solutions to more media companies such as TV and radio stations, online broadcasters, telcos, SMEs and event management companies to help them enhance their advertising campaigns,” explained VAV Executive Chairman Wan Kamarul Zaman Wan Yaacob.

Previously, VAV secured a RM500,000 (US$111,000) grant from Cradle Fund’s CIP 500 programme in early 2016. It had also secured another RM500,000 (US$111,000) in 2015 from Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (TERAJU), under their Superb Grant programme.

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VAV’s technology solutions utilise inaudible sound waves to transmit digital content to smartphones, which the startup dubbed as “a new alternative” for organisations to engage with their audiences and customers.

The solutions can be used by television companies to set calls-to-action on viewers’ smartphones during air time, such as inviting viewers to vote for a song in a contest programme or notify promotion deals from their advertisers.

The company’s products include:

  • VAV Online Control Panel: An online management software system which includes the function to edit, manage, schedule, and track any VAV Content to be triggered by the VAV Tone whenever the User activates the VAV SDK.
  • VAV Tone: An inaudible audio signal that can be embedded into any music or video soundtrack, and as such, the embedded inaudible audio signal will trigger a call to action or multimedia content, in a mobile device whenever the user activates the VAV SDK.
  • VAV SDK: A software development kit that can be plugged-in into an iOS or Android mobile app and has the ability to decode a VAV Tone and trigger a VAV Content managed by the VAV Online Control Panel whenever the User activates the VAV SDK.

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VAV is currently in the process of patenting its online dashboard, process flow, and customised functions that it developed.

The company was founded in 2015 by twin brothers Addie Leong Qi Jie and Alden Leong Qi Wen, together with Leow Teck Yee, and Wan Kamarul Zaman Bin Wan Yaacob.

Prior to starting VAV, the twin brothers ran a startup called Vacant Spot which used iBeacons to help shoppers navigate empty parking spaces in shopping malls. The business eventually failed, but they later met Leow who introduced them to the inaudible sound wave technology as used to send loyalty badges to event goers through a mobile app.

They later teamed up with Wan Kamarul Zaman to start VAV.

ADIF itself had recently invested in Pixelated’s KATSANA, a behavioural analytics solutions for motor insurance companies.


Image Credit: VAV

  • VAV
    VAV Malaysia Opening up the world of ​sound-media possibilities. VAV’s technology offers limitless possibilities for ​all businesses to create digital experiences through sound Funding: 556K Venture Round Investors: Axiata Digital Innovation Fund

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Joey Alarilla
Joey Alarilla • Head of Community and Social Media at e27
Interesting technology for transmitting digital content!
John LM Dowling
John LM Dowling • Accomplished financial services organisational transformation and business unit change specialist.
Sorry, could someone help me.
What is compelling commercially about transmitting digital content via sound as opposed to existing methods?
Also, what are the data security considerations in regard to this method of transmission? I deduce any such logic from the presented material.
Many thanks
Khur Boon Kgim
Khur Boon Kgim • Co-Founder at ShopperBoard
Hi John, I see potential application of this in targeted marketing. For example, when you are viewing a TV programme (e.g. fashion show, korean drama, commercials and etc.), the video can emit the inaudible audio signal. The phone can capture the signal and trigger certain event based on the signal (e.g. push adverts or track user to serve targeted marketing afterward). This essentially can turn any device that can output the inaudible audio signal into marketing tracking endpoint.

Another use case would be offline stores playing song that emitting the signal. When user walks nearby, his/her phone receives the signal and trigger some push notification. It is like an alternative of hyperlocal location-based solution.

The challenge I see is the security on how the phone can listen to the signal. I did not go deep into how is their implementation. But I suppose app that implements their SDK would have to turn on the mic? The security is a major concern if this is how it works.