The Download: District-based upstart Veenome lands $500K seed investment

November 20, 2011

Just six months after video technology firm Veenome got its start, a crop of angel investors have given the District-based company their blessing in the form of a $500,000 seed investment.

Co-founded by Kevin Lenane and David Geller, Veenome scours video clips for products, brands and other items that can be tagged with a link. Viewers can then click directly on the video for additional information or to make a purchase.

Imagine, for example, watching an episode of AMC’s “Mad Men” on your laptop, clicking on a character’s retro attire and being directed to a retailer’s Web page where you can acquire the same look.

“In this case, we are just making a direct link from the product placement and the consumer being able to click on it and buy it,” said Lenane, the former director of mobile at PointAbout. “Eliminating that step and eliminating the need to search is key.”

Video trends seem to be shifting in the company’s favor. Web users are consuming online video in larger gulps than ever before as television shows stream over the Internet and video-sharing sites such as YouTube attract more eyeballs.

Lenane said the firm has also caught the attention of publishers, who see the technology’s potential to open new avenues for advertising revenue.

Other products already available on the market require users to tag videos manually, he said, but Veenome hopes an algorithm that scans and tags the video automatically will set it apart.

Isn’t this something that a giant like Google or Netflix could be developing?

“The answer is they might be,” Lenane said. “I assume that there will be large competitors down the road, but they’re not out quite yet. Our desire is to get out there early and really kind of define the way this works. ”

The $500,000 should help. Lenane said the bulk of the money will be poured into further developing the firm’s technology and distribution channels, while the rest is spent on marketing to attract additional clients.

Local angel investors Jason Shrensky, Cal LaRoche and Bob Koran participated in the round, along with counterparts on the West Coast.

“There’s been a lot of negative publicity about raising money in D.C.,” Lenane said. “My experience raising money in D.C. was actually very positive. The lead time for investors in D.C. was very fast and very efficient.”

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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