Area startup Feathr secures $150,000 investment

This undated promotional photo shows the Feathr app.

Photo courtesy of Feathr
Published: Monday, April 15, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 15, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.

A Gainesville tech startup that started with a mobile application to replace business cards has received a $150,000 investment after turning its attention to making an app for conferences.

Feathr announced Monday that it had received the first investment from members of the Tampa Bay chapter of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs.

Feathr is marketing an app to event organizers that allows registrants to connect with each other and with speakers, receive updates on schedules and rooms, share a profile and eventually manage several events.

Aidan Augustin, the 22-year-old CEO, said the funding will pay for the staff of seven to focus full time on Feathr and travel to conferences. He said the business initially is targeting tech startups and small businesses in Florida.

“This group tends to be early adopters and willing to try new technology, and networking is key to what they do on a daily basis, and it's the group we have the most connections with ourselves as a small startup,” he said.

The app launches publicly next month. Augustin said the goal eventually is to raise a larger round of funding to expand across the U.S.

Augustin and Neal Ormsbee founded Feathr in 2011 as undergraduate engineering students at the University of Florida. The seven staff members are current or former UF students between the ages of 21 and 24 who work out of an office in the UF Innovation Hub.

Augustin came up with the idea for a digital business card after attending a conference and wanting an easier way to exchange networking information. The company changed focus to providing an app for conferences in December and was used at the UF Tech Showcase and the TEDxUF event.

“One of the problems was people didn't want to be the only person using this technology at an event,” he said about the shift. “It's the classic chicken and egg problem with a social app.”

Four members of the Tampa Bay TiE chapter joined in the investment for a 20 percent ownership stake in Feathr.

TiE was founded by Indian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and has 25,000 members in 17 countries. Charter members are entrepreneurs with a net worth of at least $5 million who mentor young entrepreneurs.

Augustin said Feathr turned down a more lucrative investment offer so he could draw on the business experience of the TiE investors.

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