Saturday, August 2, 2014

Forty–five member Angel-led syndicate raises $2.8M for Boston’s ViralGains



ViralGains, a company with a mission to create authentic relationships between consumers and advertisers through online video, today announced that the company has raised $2.8 million of a $3.3 million round of funding.

The round was led by Hub Angels, with participation from 45 investors, including 500 Startups’ Dave McClure ($400K), Chicago-based Pallasite Ventures, Christopher Bissonnette ($100K), Boston’s Launch Capital, 500 Startups, and local Boston-based angels Ty Danco, Joe Caruso, Jay Batson ($10K), Ralph Wagner (Walnut), Ben Littauer (Hub),  and Semyon Dukach (Techstars). Other angels include Sheryl Schultz, Will Herman, Mark Carthy, Sergey Gribov, Ed Belove, Michael Mark, and Christine Tsai. In addition, rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones ($25K) joined the investment group.


ViralGains offers a video ad platform, named Praxis, that helps advertisers find targeted audiences for YouTube video content. High profile clients of ViralGains include Exxon, Nestlé, Showtime, Lexus, and State Farm.


ViralGains has worked with 15 Fortune 500 brands to date, as well as numerous advertising agencies, SMBs, and YouTube stars. ViralGains’ inventory includes native and mobile video units placed within premium websites, influencers, social games, and social networks. The ViralGains Praxis targets by 4,000 human attributes while using a recommendation engine to find viewers who are most interested in watching the advertiser’s video.


“This round is going to allow ViralGains to scale up our advertising technology platform to bring on more advertisers who can buy video ad placements from us, and more publishers who can create revenue from those ad placements.” said ViralGains CEO Jay Singh. “Viral video is having a broad positive impact on the global culture and ViralGains is making it easy for advertisers of all sizes to drive views, shares, and conversations to their video." The company is using the funds to move into new markets, including Southern California, New York City and Chicago, and to grow the demand and supply sides of its business.

Asked how they assembled such a large investment group, Hub Angels David Verrill credits the power of syndication and "a CEO who has worked his ass off  presenting the company to potential investors."




ABOUT VIRALGAINS


ViralGains is building the first global exchange for viral video. Since 2012, ViralGains has been on a mission to create authentic relationships between advertisers and customers through online video. ViralGains works with ad agencies, brands, and YouTube stars to get their videos watched and shared by the right audiences. Praxis, ViralGains’ video ad platform, integrates targeting by thousands of human attributes, ad placements on native and social environments, and real time reporting capability to generate positive returns on marketing investment. ViralGains is headquarted in Boston, MA and is actively expanding to New York, Chicago, and Southern California. More information is available at www.ViralGains.com

Jay Singh, the founder and CEO of ViralGains, had previously, at the age of 19, founded ViralMS, with Dan Levin. Before committing to ViralGains full time, Jay went to work at Experience.com as the Demand Development Manager in order to gain valuable experience to make ViralGains a success. It was here that he met Kate Willet who would eventually join ViralGains as the VP of Business Development. After a year, Jay returned to ViralGains and brought Kate along with him. They secured office space at the Cambridge Innovation Center, giving them the structure to turn their idea into a valid business.



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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Launchpad Leads $1.2M round in Repsly, Creating Croatia to Boston Innovation District Connection


Launchpad Venture Group has just led a $1.2 Million Angel investment round in Repsly,  a B2B Mobile Cloud solution provider that has recently relocated from Zagreb, Croatia,  to Boston’s waterfront Innovation District.

 "I have been following and advising Repsly for over a year, as I was attracted to their extremely positive customer references, triple-digit organic revenue growth and the high quality solution they have developed to address market needs," says Tim Curran, Repsly board member and Launchpad Venture Group member.

Investors in this round of funding include  Launchpad, First Beverage Group,  and K5 Ventures. The company, which has been operating since 2010 as Salespod, is a SaaS business that manages the activities of field reps and the data that they collect. Repsly's clients include companies such as L'Oreal, Nike Golf, KIA Motors, Keune, Philips, Doctors Urgent Care, Schweigen Home Appliances, and Lavazza, who use this solution to drive higher accountability and efficiency within their field teams. Customers in 40 countries also leverage Repsly to gather and analyze data generated by their reps about everything from product performance, to competitive actions, customer demographics, and service delivery.


Tom First, Managing Partner, First Beverage Ventures and founder of Nantucket Nectars said that the firm was interested in Repsly because the solution is such a strong fit for companies selling consumer products through retail channels. "We are very excited to be involved with Repsly, not only because of the impact they can have on food and beverage companies, but because of their broad applicability to any organization with teams in the field."

Repsly will use the funding to invest in growth. "We have developed a disruptive product and built great success with clients around the world," said company Co-Founder and CEO Marko Kovac. "This round of funding will enable us to aggressively spread the word about Repsly by allowing us to invest in sales and marketing infrastructure." The company recently hired Richard April as Senior Vice President of Marketing to build its sales and marketing organization.

Here in the Northeast, we have all heard  how Boston's Waterfront Innovation District has been drawing companies inward from the burbs, but this is the first one lured from Croatia.
  
To our new friends from Zagreb we raise our glasses and say “Zhivio Boston! Dom graha i bakalara gdje Lowells govore samo sa Cabotima, a Caboti samo sa Bogom.”

Or, in translation: Here's to dear old Boston, The home of the bean and the cod, Where Lowells speak only to Cabots, And Cabots speak only to God."
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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Angel Investing in 2013 Approaches Record High; 298,800 Individuals Invested $24.8 Billion Says UNH Study



Market Size.  The angel investor market in 2013 continued the upward trend started in 2010 in both investment dollars and in number of investments. 

Total investment in 2013 was $24.8 billion, an increase of 8.3% over 2012, according to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire.  A total of 70,730 entrepreneurial ventures received angel funding in 2013, an increase of 5.5% over 2012 investments.  The number of active investors in 2013 was 298,800 individuals, an increase of 11.4% from 2012. 
The increase in both total dollars and the number of investments resulted in a deal size for 2013 that was slightly higher than in 2012 (an increase in deal size of 2.6% from 2012).  These data indicate that angels were active investors in 2013 but those that did invest decreased their individual investments from $85,435 in 2012 to $83,050 in 2013, a decrease of 2.8%.  The $24.8 billion in total investments is close to the market high of $26.0 billion that occurred in 2007.

Job Growth. Angel investments were a significant contributor to job growth with the creation of 290,020 new jobs in the United States in 2013, or 4.1 jobs per angel investment.

Sector Analysis. Software remained in the top sector position with 23% of total angel investments in 2013, followed by Media (16%), Healthcare Services/Medical Devices and Equipment (14%), Biotech (11%), Retail (7%) and Financial Services/Business Products and Services (7%).  The jump in Media investments from 6th place in 2012 to 2nd in 2013 reflects the growing investor interest in social media and applications.

Stage. Angels increased their investments in the seed and start-up stage, with 45% of 2013 angel investments in the seed and start-up stage, up from 35% in 2012.  The biggest factor in this increase was in the seed stage with 21% of angel investments in 2013, up from 9% in 2012.  Angels also exhibited an increased interest in early stage investing with 41% of investments in the early stage, up from 33% in 2012.  Expansion financing exhibited a significant decrease to 12% of deals in 2013, down from 29% in 2012.  Investment activity was evenly divided between new, first sequence investments and follow-on investments, unchanged from 2012.  This increase in seed/start-up stage is an encouraging sign since seed capital is the stage of need for our nation’s entrepreneurs.

Valuation.  The average angel deal size in 2013 was $350,830, an increase of 2.6% from 2012, and the average equity received was 12.5% with a deal valuation of $2.8 million.

Yield Rates. The yield rate is defined as the percentage of investment opportunities that are brought to the attention of investors that result in an investment.  In 2013 the yield rate was 21.6%, virtually identical to 2012 (21.3%).  While a high yield rate is an encouraging development for entrepreneurs seeking angel capital there is a question of the sustainability of this rate and it is possible that the yield rate will retreat to the historical average of 15%.

Women and Minority Entrepreneurs and Investors. In 2013, women angels represented 19.4% of the angel market, similar to 2012 (21.8%).  Women-owned ventures accounted for 23% of the entrepreneurs that were seeking angel capital and 19% of these women entrepreneurs received angel investment in 2013.  It is interesting to note that fewer women entrepreneurs were seeking angel capital in 2012 (16%) but more of those women received angel capital in 2012 (25%).  This high yield rate for women entrepreneurs in 2012 may have attracted more women entrepreneurs to the market and account for the increase in the percentage of women seeking angel capital in 2013. 

Minority angels accounted for 4% of the angel population and minority-owned firms represented 7% of the entrepreneurs that presented their business concept to angels, figures comparable to 2012.  The yield rate for these minority-owned firms was 13%, which is below the market yield rate in 2013.  Thus, the goal would be to both increase the percentage of minority entrepreneurs seeking angel capital and increase the quality.

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The Center for Venture Research (CVR) has been conducting research on the angel market since 1980.  The CVR’s mission is to provide an understanding of the angel market through quality research. The CVR is dedicated to providing reliable and timely information on the angel market to entrepreneurs, private investors and public policymakers.

The Center for Venture Research would like to thank all the angel groups and individual angels that participate in our research efforts.  The response rate for this survey was 29%.  The Center for VentureResearch also provides seminars to angels and entrepreneurs, and research reports on aspects of the angel market are also available.

The full citation for this report is: Jeffrey Sohl, “The Angel Investor Market in 2013:  A Return to Seed Investing”, Center for Venture Research, April 30, 2014.

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