recently raised more than $300,000 in angel investments, exceeding its goal of $250,000 to roll out the next phase of its software solution. The LaunchHouse
company offers free or discounted printing at libraries in exchange for accepting advertising on the bottom of the printed pages. A percentage of the revenue generated from the full-color ads is then returned to the libraries to offset their costs.
Initially, founder Ryan Clark and his four partners tested Knowta’s usability at CWRU
’s Kelvin Smith Library
during the 2012-2013 school year. They looked at three factors: Would library patrons use the service; would it work well in the university environment and provide value to the university; and would it deliver desirable results to advertisers. “We got an affirmative response on all three,” says Clark.
The next step is to improve upon the software. Clark says the investments, 90 percent of which came from individual Northeast Ohio investors, will be used to roll out the next phase. “There are a number of features we want to add to make it more attractive to our advertisers and make it more robust,” he says. “We’re excited about it. We’ve received tremendous feedback from users at Case.”
Knowta currently is in talks with five other universities in Northeast Ohio, and Clark says they are open to talking to any school that is interested in their product. Their goal is to secure five to six new schools this year.
Knowta currently has 25 advertisers in a range of industries, most of them local. Clark’s goal is to tap into the national market. The most popular ads are for the food and beverage industry.
Knowta has two full time employees, one paid intern and uses four to five contractors to build out the second phase of software development. The company plans to hire a lead developer/solution architect by the end of the year.
Source: Ryan Clark
Writer: Karin Connelly