News Column

Text-to-Video Tech Startup Receives $1 million in Seed Funding

Feb 7, 2013

Nancy Dahlberg

Guide, a new technology startup based in Miami, announced Tuesday it has closed a $1 million round of seed funding from investors including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Sapient Corp., MTV founder Bob Pitman, actor and producer Omar Epps, and early Google employee Steve Schimmel. The Knight Foundation is supporting Guide through its new early-stage venture fund, the Knight Enterprise Fund.

Led by CEO and founder Freddie Laker and COO Leslie Bradshaw, Guide's team of seven is focused on turning online news, social streams and blogs into video for users who may be cooking, exercising, commuting or getting ready in the morning. The free application offers consumers a selection of about 20 "anchors" -- including a dog, a robot and an anime character -- that will read the article and present the accompanying photos, pull-out information and video clips in its video presentation. Revenue drivers for Guide could include in-app purchases, advertising-based anchors and customizations from publishers, said Laker, a former vice president at SapientNitro.

Laker and his team plan to launch a public beta next month, which they plan to do with a splash at the huge technology conference South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

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Source: (c) 2013 The Miami Herald