Thursday, February 09, 2006
Provided by The Plain Dealer Written by Mary Vanac
Early-stage investor JumpStart Inc. has committed $500,000 to an Akron company that has developed software to help companies manage electronic communication with customers.
The commitment to Knotice Ltd. is JumpStart's second-largest since it began investing in young companies in mid-2004, said Lynn-Ann Gries, chief investment officer for the Cleveland organization.
JumpStart and its staff of entrepreneurs invest money and time in companies with above-average growth potential to get them ready for other investors. Knotice will be JumpStart's 10th portfolio company.
Initially, Knotice (the "k" is silent) will get $200,000, which will be invested in product development, sales, marketing and hiring, said Brian Deagan, co-founder and chief executive.
"We expect to go from nine to 30 people in 2006," said Deagan, who co-founded two other companies with Bill Landers before Knotice.
"Psychologically, the investment reflects the commitment of the region to [startup] technology companies," Deagan said. "It's a great thing."
Over the last four years, Deagan and his colleagues have developed software that helps cable and broadband companies retain customers through electronic marketing.
"Consumers generally are tuning out," Deagan said. "They're putting down their newspapers and turning off their TVs."
Consumers also no longer accept shotgun marketing, he said. They expect communications that are customized to their needs and interests.
"That's creating a heck of a problem for marketers that use traditional vehicles," Deagan said.
Instead, consumers are logging on to the Internet through high-speed connections and using cell phones.
So companies of any type can use Knotice's software to market to customers via e-mail, the Internet, cell phones or other electronic means.
"Let's say you are going into a muffler shop," Deagan explained. You can choose to have the shop deliver service alerts to your cell phone or e-mail address.
The multichannel nature of Knotice software is what attracted investor JumpStart. "This multi-channel delivery is considered by experts to be the Holy Grail," Gries said.