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It’s is harvesting season and seed rounds are sprouting like crazy. Today, fledging startups are getting showered in venture capital to make their products grow. Already this morning, 5 early-stage companies peeked up above ground to make funding announcements. Here is what they have revealed.
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Spindle harvests social graph, reaps $2.3 million in VC funding
In 2010, a group of ex-Microsoft employees banded together to form a startup. Two years later, they have released Spindle to “redefine the future of search.” The application provides a news feed for your surroundings. It is built on geo-positioning technology that takes information about location, time of day, nearby establishments, social networks, and real-time updates to give users a glimpse into what is happening around them. Features include user profiles and sharing; theme filters (shopping, restaurants); feeds from ‘favorited’ and ‘liked’ spots; and the ability to search for specific places.
Polaris Ventures, Greylock Partners, Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, Atlas Ventures, Broad Beach Ventures, Project 11, Ray Ozzie and Raman Narayanan threw in for this round. Spindle is currently available in Boston and San Francisco, and other major cities are soon to follow.
MAZ Digital helps brands publish mobile content without a developer hand
Digital publishing platform MAZ Digital closed $1 million in seed funding led by Expansion Venture Capital. Expansion focuses its investments on mobile infrastructure, and MAZ’s cloud-based platform helps publishers easily deliver high-quality content to tablets and mobile devices, without needing their own developer team. Over 100 publications currently use the platform, including Inc. Magazine, General Electric, and Hubert Burda Media. MAZ bootstrapped for two years before taking this initial capital and will use the money to scale. In addition to Expansion, there were 13 other participants in this round.
Zoomdata raises $1.1 million to make data look like Matisse
Data is not typically something I think of as “beautiful,” particularly not with my background in art history. However, these two worlds are colliding with a startup called Zoomdata, which processes data and turns it into “three-dimensional tactile data art.” The system allows users to integrate multiple data source into a single stream to create a “data quilt” and view it in “beautiful visualizations.” The reports include past, present, and future views, zoom capabilities, and collaboration tools. The funding came from a group of angel and institutional investors and will be used to add to the engineering team. Zoomdata is based in Reston, VA.
SubtleData links cash registers to smart phones
While the mobile payments space is heating up, a majority of bars, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, resorts, convenience stores, and retail shops still conduct business using Point-of-Sale systems. SubtleData connects mobile applications to these systems by providing a single platform that developers can use for integration, so they do not need to do it on a case-by-case basis. This makes it easier for build apps for retail businesses. SubtleData raised this initial $500K fund through on AngelList. The company is based in Austin, Texas with customers around the world.
The Winklevoss twins invest in e-commerce solution Hukkster
Winklevoss Capital recently led a $1 million investment in Hukkster. Hukkster is a button that lives in a user’s browser. Whilst shopping, you collect products you would like to buy, but which may be slightly out of your price range or soon to go on sale. When the price is reduced, Hukkster sends an alert to your inbox and takes a small referral fee for each sale.
Hukkster was founded by Katie Finnegan and Erica Bell who used to work at J.Crew as merchandisers. Since launching, it has acquired more than 10,000 users and works with major brands such as J. Crew, Bloomingdale’s, and ShopBop. Hukkster is based in New York City.
SocialWire launches with $2 million to make Facebook ads effective, social, and less annoying
Facebook and advertisers have had some rocky moments over the years, as have startups trying to make these ads effective. SocialWire is valiantly entering the ring today with $2 million in seed capital from First Round Capital, Dave McClure, Joi Ito, Ariel Poler and Brian Sugar with what is allegedly “a new kind of advertising company.”
SocialWire is a platform that lets marketers take a shoppers’ activity on their site and turn it into a Facebook moment. For example “Rachel Greenwood loved a product on SocialShop.” will show up on the news feed, and members of her social network can click directly on the catalog item. The sharing is more organic drives traffic back to the retailers.
Survey startup makes it OK to give your friends a wedgie
Wedgies are mean and rarely lucrative. However, this company which creates simple, shareable polls with realtime results has taken $500K in seed funding. Users simply create a question and two answers on Wedgies, and then receive as many votes as they tally up. Zappos and the NCAA have both used the platform to survey audiences during live events. The round was led by Tony Hsieh’s VegasTechFund, Mike Ciklin of SPB Partners, and angel investors Steve Slovick and John Eaves. Wedgies is based in Las Vegas.
Captive Media turns peeing into an opportunity for gaming and advertising
Maybe it is a girl thing, but I prefer not to be advertised to while I am in the bathroom. It seems not all men, or at least investors, do not share this sentiment because Captive Media has raised $700K in seed funding for its ‘pee-controlled washroom media system.” These interactive systems are installed in public urinals and feature games that are controlled by aiming left and right in the bowl. Brands and venues have the opportunity to market to consumers while they are, well, captive.
Captive Media launched in 2011 in the UK. SInce then, it has expanded to eight European countries and will soon be entering the US. The investment came from a group of six angels, including Cambridge-based technology fund Martlet, and serial tech investor Mike Ullmann, chair of Prodigy Finance.
For the funding news that broke this morning, check out: Funding Daily: A pitcher’s worth of investment news