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DEMO Fall 2010 alumnus Bump.com, a social network that links people through their car license plates, has raised more than $1 million in its second round of funding, VentureBeat has learned.
As the DEMO Spring 2011 conference wraps up, Bump.com’s funding news demonstrates how the event, which VentureBeat coproduces with tech publisher, IDG, often sees graduates move on to greater and greater business success.
CEO Mitch Thrower wouldn’t disclose exactly how much the company raised in its Series B-1 funding round, but said the round was oversubscribed — meaning there was more offers for funding than Bump.com was willing to take from investors. The round was closed in a little more than two weeks, Thrower said. (The service is not to be confused with Bump, a content-sharing application for the iPhone.)
Bump.com users take a picture of a license plate and pass a message along through the Bump.com application. If the driver of the other car has registered their license plate with Bump.com, he or she will receive a text message or an email message. They can decide from there whether they want to respond. Drivers spend more than five years in their cars honking at each other when they could be actually communicating with each other, Thrower said.
There are a lot of applications outside of the social networking aspect as well. There are billboards in Los Angeles that track more than 250,000 license plates every day. The company is also setting up shop at the Coachella music festival in April — where it will track license plates as they enter the music festival and deliver discounts to songs played by bands at Coachella.
That’s a lot of license plates and data. So the company works on Amazon’s AWS cloud servers instead of running the service on in-house servers. The company makes money by supplying users with a subscription similar to AAA — it includes free towing and discounts to some other companies. Around 7 to 10 percent of users that claim their license plate on Bump.com end up converting to paid users, Thrower said.
Bump.com also partners with other companies to help deliver better advertising data. Partners, for example, might ask how many motorcycle riders pass through a part of the freeway in a given part of the day — and Bump.com can deliver that kind of information.
The actual site is launching a closed beta at the South by Southwest music festival in Texas later this month. Bump.com has raised $1.1 million from an initial funding round led by angels and money from the founders and employees. Bump.com was founded in 2009. The company’s first round of funding, which closed before it presented at the DEMO Fall 2010 conference, was also oversubscribed.