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5 April 2013

Neon clicks onto VC backing

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) spin-out Neon receives seed backing for undisclosed sum.

Author: Gregg Bayes-Brown, editor

Neon, a CMU spin-out that specialises in driving online video traffic, has received an undisclosed sum in seed financing in a round led by True Ventures.

Also joining the round were venture firms Mohr Davidow Ventures (MDV), XSeed Capital, and technology entrepreneur Steve Blank.

 The funding will be used to further develop Neon’s product, which automatically choses the most visually appealing thumbnail in a video with the intention of driving more traffic to the video in question. The firm’s cognitive and brain science backing the product is based on neuroscience research conducted at the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a joint venture between CMU and the University of Pittsburgh. The technology itself is co-owned by CMU and Brown University, and is licensed through CMU.

The firm got started after participating in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corp) programme, led by a consortium of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. True Venture founder John Burke, MDV partner John Feiber, and Steve Blank were all instructors on the programme.

Neon chief executive and co-founder Sophie Lebrecht said: "It's a rare opportunity to have investors who have been partners and champions of the company before there was even a product - when it was just an idea. And now, with the addition of new investors XSeed, we have the added benefit of investors who have extensive experience growing companies founded on science. I am confident that with this team and our academic partners from Brown and CMU, Neon will be able to create products that transform how online images are selected."

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