A few days ago I had a chance to catch up with Social Matchbox alum Chis Seline about a Kickstarter project for a game called Poker Smash. The game is best described as poker meets Tetris.
He and is partner on the Void Star Creations are engaged in an effort are planning to port the game from the Xbox Live Arcade over to PC. We talked talked a bit about how Kickstarter allows you to track where you get sales or conversions from. A version is already available via iTunes. They are also listed on Steam Greenlight.
According to Chris, the PC version is close to being done. They are looking to raise $7,500 wrap things up.
The team is also working on an early stage 3D social gaming world called Junction which is headed to market soon.
You can check out a video of it here:
I will be in Houston and Dallas next week and am looking for recommendations on coworking spaces. If you know a great coffee house that is a good place to cowork I would love to hear about it.
The places that I have found in Dallas so far include:
While I’m in town I will try to stop in and visit recommendations and do a write-up for people who are curious how Texans get along. I took a look around for events and it looks like I’m going to miss just about everything. If anyone wants to meet up during the week that could be interesting. I’m in Houston the first part of the week and then in Dallas for the latter part.
PS-If you have an interesting startup and are looking to get some exposure for it or to network, I’m always interested in that sort of thing.
Right now I’m reading I’m feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards. His book talks about how the team from Google hacked together one hell of a rack at Exodus back in the ’90′s and about the excitement that he and others shared about working for a startup that was going to exit big. I would highly recommend reading his book if you are looking for some inspiration. If you have read a good startup book lately, share it in the comments to this post or better yet, swap it for another good read with a founder you know today.
Arlington, VA based BrightContext has just announced their raise of $1.74 Million in new funding. The company is in the social television space and is providing a service that makes it easier for television companies to implement elastic massively interactive programming with the goal of enabling viewers to interact with one another in real time. You can read more about how it works here.
According to co-founder John Funge, this funding round was lead by the team from Southern Capitol Ventures. David Jones from Southern Capitol Ventures will be joining the board. Others participating in the round included Virginia’s CIT Gap Fund, the founders of comScore, Bobby Yazdani.
John Funge and Leo Scott co-founded Clara Vista (acquired by CMGI) and Pickle.com (acquired by Scripps Networks).
WeddingWire, a Bethesda, MD based growth stage startup serving the wedding industry announced today that they raised a $25 million investment from Spectrum Equity. The company’s leadership team includes Timothy Chi who was a co-founder of Blackboard, Lee Wang who was VP of Sales at Parature and prior to that a Director at Blackboard.
We had a chance to catch up with the team last week and they let us know that they are gearing up for a move a few blocks down Wisconsin Ave from their current digs into the building above Indique Heights right above the Friendship Heights Metro station. The team currently occupies three floors in their existing building.
Spectrum is a private equity firm founded in 1994 with offices in Boston, MA and Menlo Park, CA. They have raised funds totaling $4.7 billion and are focused on investing in what they characterize as the information economy. Typical investments are made in growth stage companies like WeddingWire and range from $25-100 Million.
The company’s Series A funding included money from Martha Stewart Living and OmniMedia. Jason Caplain from Southern Capitol Ventures is a current Board Observer so it is likely that they contributed at a the seed or angel stage. We have not had a chance to confirm this.
A few days back I received an email from the CIT Gap Fund folks that reads as follows:
“Subject: ACTION Needed: CIT’s GAP 50
CIT is celebrating Virginia’s most promising entrepreneurs through CIT GAP Funds’ “GAP 50” Award Program (http://www.cit.org/gap50). A state-wide awards program, the “GAP 50” will honor both the emerging and repeat entrepreneurs who will develop the next generation of high-growth companies in the Commonwealth.
At least three of your peers have nominated you for this award, thus you are now considered a GAP 50 finalist. The definitive “GAP 50” will be selected by peer vote among qualifying finalists in mid-September.”
I would like to thank the 3+ people who took the time to nominate me for this. I have been flying under the radar from an event perspective so the number of things like this that I hear about is a bit less than usual.
It looks like at the very least I will be lunching with some other very awesome entrepreneurs from Northern Virginia in October thanks to you.
A few years ago I would not have thought of myself as a Northern Virginia entrepreneur outside of the having held a few events there, but 2011 and 2012 have shaped up to be big
While I am sure most people are going to think that the title of this post is cliche, I want to point out that that is not the case at all.
A few years ago people started talking about mobile social networks and I thought that was a really interesting, but way off in time idea. I was really wrong. I hate being wrong so consider this my effort to correct myself publicly.
The biggest evidence of this that I have seen in a public setting is the mobile social network Waze. Waze is a really interesting, if not addictive mobile social network built around maps. The service allows you to interact with other drivers in real time using really neat features that helps everyone in the network to get where they are going safely, economically and without delays that could not be anticipated. There are local groups and interest groups around what you want to do.
I don’t think that Waze is the end all be all by any means. For starters, the app aspires to be a bit more of a Tom Tom style driver GPS app than I am personally interested in using. Driving directions are nice, but the developers of it have not found a happy place between computer voice based driving directions and incoming calls, music, news, or podcasts. There is a ton of room for innovation here. For example, when you are listening to your favorite music site online and initiate a skype call the volume on the music site is automatically muted. Search via Waze is still severely lacking.
Fortunately there are a ton of options out there that ensure that there will be others to follow Waze. Did I mention that it is right about the time that Apple buy Waze? They seem like a great alternative to Google Maps. You could take a look at Bing (I don’t know anyone who uses it) or MapQuest (dead to me because it just sucks), or maybe something else. I would love to hear about other alternatives to Google Maps. As a developer bootstrapping a startup, I
really don’t like can’t stand Google Maps. Once you get past the really tiny API limits on Google Maps you are looking at $800+ to stay in the game. I can’t imagine what Apple is paying for the Google Maps partnership via the iPhone, but it has to be an absurd amount of money.
What would really make my day is a service like Google Maps that had a more generous API and that did not suck. One effort moving in the right direction is OpenStreetMap. The service is open and currently powers MapQuest. You can get at an instance of it via MapQuest, but the service is unacceptably slow when compared to Google Maps via API. I’m hoping to get around to standing up an OpenStreetMaps server based service to see what is possible. Even with this, there is a lot of room for improvement. The Knight Foundation announced a grant of $575,000 to Development Seed and MapBox which should help improve OpenStreetMap quite a bit. I look forward to following their progress.
Over the last few years I have seen some great efforts concentrated around mobile social networks and map oriented startups. I would love to hear about more startups and efforts in this space. Drop me a line if you are working on one or interested in working on one.