When venture capitalist Michael Sheridan first came across Brickstream Corp. about a year ago, he passed on making any kind of investment. He thought Brickstream's technology, which helps retailers track customer behavior, was interesting but not something retailers would scramble to buy.
"I didn't think customers would want this," he said. "Boy was I wrong."
His conversion came in the form of a $6.2 million first round of funding led by his firm, Mohr, Davidow Ventures, and Alexandria-based Columbia Capital, that will allow Brickstream to expand its sales and marketing efforts.
Brickstream is the second company founded by Amir Hudda, the co-founder and former chief executive of Entevo Corp. After selling Entevo three years ago, Hudda searched for another project.
"I didn't want to be sitting at home," he said. "I needed to do something that was different."
So he started Brickstream, a company far removed from the network management software developed by Entevo. Hudda used the way customer data is collected on retail Web sites as a model for what Brickstream does for actual traffic in stores.
"They know everything about what you do online," he said, "but they have very little information about what goes on in the physical environment."
Brickstream has developed software that connects to security cameras, such as those inside a store or a bank. The cameras track the way customers move, what kinds of displays they're drawn to, how they walk through stores and how long they wait in line to make purchases.
"All of this is anonymous," Hudda said. "We don't need to know who you are; we just need to know you are there."
Stores can use Brickstream's analysis of that data to plan layouts or determine the effectiveness of promotions. Banks can use it to gauge how quickly lines move, allowing them to plan when to employ more tellers.
The company has already completed the first version of its product. This money will go to expand the company's sales staff. Hudda expects to almost double Brickstream's workforce in the next year.
Before this round, private investors, including the founders, put just under a million dollars in the company.
"They got very far with very little," said Sheridan, who runs the McLean office of Silicon Valley-based Mohr, Davidow.
Hudda expects this infusion of funding to last until the company's revenue exceeds its operating expenses, which he hopes will happen sometime next year. But that would not preclude raising any more venture capital.
"We'll probably raise another round for expansion capital," Hudda said, "in order to expand our presence. We'll probably do another round."