New Enterprise Associates, the Foundry Group, Madrona Venture Group and prominent angel investors provided $3.25 million in seed funding to Spare5, a mobile application that pays people to provide expert insight in their spare time. Spare5 is the first company to spin out of startup studio Madrona Venture Labs. Madrona Venture Group’s Greg Gottesman and Foundry’s Brad Feld will join Spare5’s board of directors.
Spare5, a new mobile-optimized, on-demand insights platform, announced today a $3.25 million seed financing from New Enterprise Associates, the Foundry Group, Madrona Venture Group and several prominent angels. Spare5 is the first company to spin out of Madrona Venture Labs, a startup studio housed at Madrona that prototypes, builds and launches new software applications and services.
Spare5 is a mobile application that pays people to provide expert insights in their spare time. The company is initially focused on helping ecommerce companies increase sales through expert image tagging and data clean up. Spare5 sends simple, paid projects to people on their smartphones based on their experience, hobbies and the quality of their responses.
“People have more spare time than they think,” said Spare5 CEO and co-founder Matt Bencke. “They play games, they browse what their friends are doing on social networks, and they check the weather. Spare5 gives consumers a fun alternative to make spare change with their spare time. At the same time, companies need real people to help them tune their site content or other elements for their customers. The Spare5 platform makes that possible at speed and scale.”
Spare5 indexes app users on dozens of criteria to match the right experts to a given task. For example, two large ecommerce companies have used Spare5 to target interior decorators to help identify the architectural style, fabrics or material types used in images of homes.
“An image, or any product for that matter, is only valuable if people can actually search and find it,” said Bencke, the former Senior Vice President of Product and Customer Experience at Getty Images, the world’s leading creator and distributor of award-winning still imagery. “To be found, an image needs to be described thoroughly and accurately. Spare5’s platform provides expertise at scale to enable tagging and data cleanup better and more quickly than anyone else.”
“At Porch.com one of our primary goals is to help homeowners love their homes through inspiration and the discovery of new ideas,” said Asha Sharma chief marketing officer of Porch. “To deliver on that promise, we need to work with exceptional technology partners like Spare5 to tackle age old problems like accurate photo tagging. As a result of our partnership, and the innovative technology they provide, we can make the photo experience on Porch seamless for both homeowners and home improvement professionals.”
Spare5’s product was created and initially built at Madrona Venture Labs, a startup studio led by Madrona Venture Group Managing Director Greg Gottesman, serial entrepreneur Joe Heitzeberg, and a team of developers and designers.
“When we were discussing the concept of Spare5 with customers initially, everyone we talked to had a problem that could be solved with the service,” said Gottesman. “Customers recognize that investments in big data are only as good as the quality of the data.”
The technology team behind Spare5 includes Patrick O’Donnell, former CTO and co-founder of Urbanspoon, Daryn Nakhuda, former CTO of TeachStreet and senior engineer at Amazon.com, and Matt Shobe, co-founder of Feedburner and VP of Product at AngelList.
As part of the funding, Gottesman and Foundry’s Brad Feld will join the Spare5 Board. The company’s advisors include Dan Weld, a computer science professor at the University of Washington and leading expert on crowd-sourcing quality algorithms, Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org, Aaron Easterly, CEO of Rover and formerly a GM at Microsoft and Atlas, and Grant Ries, co-founder of BlueKai. Angel investors include Oren Etzioni, entrepreneur and Director of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
“We see a massive untapped audience waiting to be activated,” said Jason Mendelson, Managing Director of Foundry. “We think Spare5’s vision is unique, and we are excited to work with them to capitalize on this enormous opportunity.”
For more information:
Spare5 is a mobile-optimized, on-demand service platform. For more information, visit www.spare5.com.
About Foundry Group
Foundry Group is a venture capital firm focused on making investments in early-stage information technology, Internet and software startups. Foundry’s passion is working alongside entrepreneurs to give birth to new technologies and to build those technologies into industry-leading companies. The team is centrally located in Boulder, CO, but invests in companies across North America.
About Madrona Venture Labs
Madrona Venture Labs is a startup studio housed at Madrona Venture Group, led by Madrona Managing Director Greg Gottesman, serial entrepreneur Joe Heitzeberg and a team of talented developers and designers.
About Madrona Venture Group
Madrona (www.madrona.com) has been investing in early-stage technology companies in the Pacific Northwest since 1995 and has been privileged to play a role in some of the region’s most successful technology ventures. The firm invests predominantly in seed and Series A rounds across the information technology spectrum, including consumer Internet, commercial software and services, digital media and advertising, networking and cloud computing, and mobile. Madrona manages approximately $1 billion and was an early investor in companies such as Amazon.com, Apptio, Isilon Systems, Rover, and Redfin.
New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) is a leading venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors, and geographies. With approximately $13 billion in committed capital, NEA invests in information technology, healthcare, and energy technology companies at all stages in a company’s lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm’s long track record of successful investing includes more than 175 portfolio company IPOs and more than 300 acquisitions. For additional information, visit www.nea.com.