Photo: goldend via Flickr
Google created Google Ventures in March 2009 as a venture capital fund. The mission: support innovation and encourage promising new technology companies.One of the startups GV backs is Boston-based SCVNGR, led by 21-year-old engineer, Seth Priebatsch.
We chatted with Seth about what it’s like to have the digital giant watching your back.
Last December, Seth and his company received one heck of a Christmas present – $4MM in funding from Google Ventures.
Seth explained how it happened.
“Peter Bell [General Manager of SCVNGR’s first investor Highland Capital] asked me, ‘Do you know Rich Miner? Would you like me to set up an introduction?”
Seth knew exactly who the Android developer/co-founder was.
Next, Seth met his Rich at Google’s Boston office, but SCVNGR didn’t immediately receive funding. A few months of back and forth led to the official Google investment.
According to Seth, Google is much more than a cash cow for the startup. “Once Google became involved it opened all sorts of resources,” he explains.
Besides hooking Seth up with a free Android, Google frequently lends its services and mentorship to the young startup. They even helped him get a brief meeting with Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whom Priesbatsch exclaims are “nerd royalty!”
“When I was in school, I was excited to study under impressive professors,” Priebatsch gushes. “Now, at SCVNGR, I’m excited to be working with and mentored by some really brilliant people.”
There seems to be no limit to Google’s charity for their venture babies. “When we were developing our UI for the [SCVNGR] app, Google flew one of their leading developers out to Boston to help us build it,” Seth says.
Thanks to Google’s funding, SCVNGR is able to offer in-house marketing materials to participating institutions. “If a bar wants to create a SCVNGR challenge for their customers, we love to help them promote it. If they want coasters that say, ‘Complete our challenge on SCVNGR,’ we create the coasters in-house and ship them right away. It’s nice to have Google to help fund all of that.”
There are 12 startups backed by Google Ventures, including SCVNGR.
According to Google, “Each one of these companies has the potential to make a global impact. They fall across a wide ranges of categories: consumer Internet, software, hardware, clean-tech, biotechnology, healthcare, and more.
When making an investment, the potential of the company, quality of the idea, and the quality of the team are more important to [Google] than any particular stage or market sector.”
SCVNGR fit the bill and is reaping the benefits, having recently secured deals with The Boston Globe and the New England Patriots.
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