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In The News

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Provided by Akron Beacon Journal Written by Gloria Irwin
Venture capital investor JumpStart is betting $500,000 on an Akron company's ability to develop a better marketing idea.

Knotice Ltd.'s concept is based in a new software technology that matches consumers with the marketing that meets their specific interests.

Knotice, located in Akron's Merriman Valley, is the 10th Northeast Ohio company to receive such backing from JumpStart, which takes an equity position in the companies it helps fund.

Knotice initially served the cable and broadband markets. Now, the nine-employee firm intends to use the JumpStart money to hire about 20 people for new product development, sales and marketing, CEO Brian Deagan said.

"Consumers are tuning out these days,'' Deagan said. "They're putting down newspapers. They're turning off the TV.

"By them doing that, it's made it really hard for marketers to communicate with them, to connect with them.''

Deagan said his company has developed a product that would customize messages to consumers' tastes. For example, a muffler shop customer could choose to receive service alerts to a cell phone or e-mail and would also receive content geared to them when visiting the muffler shop's Web site.

"It's a lot less about advertising, and it's a lot more about communicating with customers,'' Deagan said.

Ray Leach, chief investment officer for JumpStart, said there's "an incredibly large market'' for such a technology.

The product is nearly ready to be rolled out, Deagan said.

"We are in very mature discussions with a handful of large business-to-consumer companies,'' he said.

Deagan, a native of Lake Township in Stark County, previously helped launch an Internet-related company called 600 Monkeys. About five years ago, he moved to Silicon Valley when the company was bought out.

He returned to the area in 2004, and has found an improved attitude toward entrepreneurial ventures.

"What JumpStart's doing is a great thing,'' he said. "Back in the '90s, so much of the money from this area was going to the coasts'' for investment.

JumpStart has invested $3.6 million in the 10 ventures, and those companies have attracted $3.2 million in additional capital, Leach said.

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