Angel-Funded GoldRun Helps Nike Augment Its Reality

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geographic locations, such as stores, sporting events, or music events, where users can find virtual content with the app. GoldRun also charges for the number of objects that clients make available for user interaction. Rosenthal’s company provides its clients with analytics on who is taking the photos and how they are being shared.

Other players in augmented reality  include Britain’s Autonomy, which developed the Aurasma visual browser, and Amsterdam’s Layar. Palo Alto, CA-based HP acquired Autonomy in October for more than $10 billion. Aurasma lets users discover video content by pointing their smartphone or tablet cameras at pictures and objects in the real world. During a demo at the October NY Tech Meetup, the company showed how a photo on the front page of a newspaper could trigger a related online video.

Rosenthal got on the path to the augmented reality world while working on a master’s thesis on the intersection of digital and physical space at Columbia University’s architecture school. “There was a senior person from Nike on the [thesis] jury and they were thinking about developing the first robust 3-D e-commerce site,” she says.

Rosenthal and her grad school partner, Jesse Seppi, co-founded New York’s Tronic Studio, a digital design and media studio, in 2001—one day after graduation—so they could work with Nike. Rosenthal, who remains an equity owner in Tronic Studio, started GoldRun in October 2010 when she saw the potential to monetize augmented reality on GPS-enabled smartphones. “Your city becomes the chessboard and you’re the chess piece,” she says. Rosenthal brought GoldRun co-founder Shai Rao, executive editor at Surface magazine, onboard shortly after launching the company.

GoldRun is looking to raise a Series A round within the next five months, Rosenthal says. She hopes to use the funding to flesh out GoldRun’s staff with more sales and technical personnel. GoldRun is developing a new version of the app and plans to release a version for Android devices in early 2012.

Rosenthal believes her app can help brands and retailers extend their presence beyond their stores and the Web to reach consumers anytime and anyplace through their smartphones. “We’re turning the fans of a brand into brand ambassadors,” she says.

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