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Local upstart IntroHive raises venture capital

District-based IntroHive raised $1.8 million from investors to bulk up its sales staff, executives plan to announce this week.

The brainchild of founders Jody Glidden and Stewart Walchli, IntroHive creates software that mines the business contacts of a company’s employees in search of potential sales prospects.

The goal, Glidden said, is to cut down on the amount of time that sales representatives spend trying to identify the right point of contact inside a company and increase the likelihood the person will respond.

“Instead of having them cold call, we can give them a steady flow of warm introductions,” Glidden said.

“The value of a person is more than just what they know, it’s who they know,” he continued. “It makes a huge difference if you can know how connected your employees are [or] make a point to hire really connected people.”

Glidden said the software can also be used to recruit new hires by harnessing your employees’ collective contact list. Employees can opt to have their personal connections mined by the software as well, in a way that preserves their own privacy and that of their contacts, Glidden said.

GrowthWorks Atlantic and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation led the latest round, which builds on $1.2 million the company raised before its launch earlier this year. Glidden and Walchli previously founded Chalk Media, which they sold to BlackBerry maker Research in Motion for $23.1 million in 2009.

Grotech gets Md. money

Vienna-based Grotech Ventures has a fresh $12 million to invest in early-stage ventures as the first private investment firm chosen to receive money from the InvestMaryland fund.

The Maryland legislature approved Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s InvestMaryland initiative last year to help spur entre­pre­neur­ship in the state. The department of business and economic development is enlisting private venture capital firms to help it invest the $84 million fund.

The money will provide returns to the state budget if the ventures are ultimately successful, though the majority of early-stage ventures do not survive to become major corporations or acquisition targets.

The Maryland Venture Fund Authority, a board appointed to oversee dispersal of the fund, is expected to select additional venture capital firms in the coming months.

LivingSocial tax package

District-based LivingSocial must provide daily deals, technical and marketing training, and other services for small businesses in the city in order to qualify for a hefty tax incentive that the D.C. Council passed this summer.

The new conditions are part of negotiations the city mandated when it adopted a $32.5 million tax incentive plan. The law requires companies seeking the incentives to hammer out an agreement spelling out what they will do to benefit local small businesses.

LivingSocial also must employ at least 1,000 people in the District and establish a 200,000-square-foot headquarters within city limits.

The feasibility of those requirements was called into doubt at the end of last month when LivingSocial announced it would lay off 400 workers across the United States, including 160 in Washington. Those requirements must be met before the tax exemptions take effect in 2016.

The recently finalized agreement covers conditions that take effect next year. Its provisions include:

LivingSocial will distribute daily deals every year for at least 20 companies in areas of the city disrupted by construction. LivingSocial could instead provide those merchants with services, including “social media subscriptions or engagement services” or other “special marketing efforts.”

LivingSocial must also design and administer at least 18 hours of social media marketing and technology training annually for small-business owners in the city.

These sessions will cover “the use of social media, online marketing mechanisms and other technology platforms that may enable entrepreneurs to increase their customer base and sales.”

The company must provide at least 32 hours of engineering-related training annually for 20 software developers in hopes of recruiting and retaining technical talent for companies in the District.

LivingSocial operated an internal training program called Hungry Academy, which is designed to groom engineers for the firm itself. If it continues, that would satisfy the requirement.

Finally, LivingSocial will employ interns each year as part of the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The intern salaries are paid by the District and the total number of interns must equal 1 percent of LivingSocial’s local workforce.

If LivingSocial fails to meet any of the requirements in a given year, it will be expected to make up the difference in the next year, the agreement states.

Steven Overly is a national reporter covering federal technology and energy policy with a focus on Capitol Hill. He previously covered the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital.



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