Reality check for Blippar co-founder

Jo Francis
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Blippar co-founder Ambarish Mitra has suffered reputational damage after it emerged his CV included false claims.

Blippar’s augmented reality technology has been used in a number of high-profile cross-media campaigns and promotions, including the Rugby World Cup

Mitra has also been selected by EY to represent Britain at this week’s World Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Monaco. 

The entrepreneur is famous for his rags-to-riches story, running away from his home town in India and then sleeping rough in New Delhi before achieving tech fame. However, the Financial Times looked into Mitra’s background and found that his claims about founding and floating a business in India, and studying at the London School of Economics, were false.

In an interview with last weekend’s Sunday Times Mitra said he was “deeply apologetic” and admitted the bad press was not helpful at a time when Blippar is looking to raise additional capital.

The firm’s losses ballooned to £26m in the 16-month trading period to 31 March 2016, on sales of £8.5m. In the prior 12 month trading period it lost £5m on sales of £4.5m.

Blippar’s backers include Qualcomm Ventures and Lansdowne Partners. The FT described it as one of the UK’s best-funded start-ups when it raised a further $54m (£42m) last year, in an investment round led by Malaysian government investment fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

The business is a so-called ‘unicorn’, in that it is valued at more than $1bn. Mitra co-founded the firm with Omar Tayeb in 2011.

Blippar has not commented. 

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