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a marketplace on the app where people can earn “badges and virtual goods,” Fergus says. “For the fans, it’s really great because they’ll have the opportunity to not just support artists, but become influencers and tastemakers,” he says. But the company’s gamification play is still being fleshed out, and it’s more of a long-term goal for LÜM, Fergus adds.
The company has gotten this far with a small team and a relatively tight budget. LÜM has raised about $500,000 from investors, including Fergus’s father, Gregg, who helps run a startup incubator on the East Coast and is a board member at Butterfly Network, which makes mobile ultrasound equipment and has raised at least $350 million in venture capital. (Fergus’s 27-year-old brother, Jake, serves as LÜM’s chief marketing officer.)
The company got an early boost when it won the local “Pressure Chamber” startup pitch contest in August, which earned Fergus a trip to California’s Silicon Valley in October to meet with venture capitalists and other potential backers. LÜM also scored a consulting package with the Lindsay, Stone & Briggs advertising agency in Madison.
“We didn’t expect to win” the pitch contest, Fergus says. “We were the youngest company ever to make the finals. Our ages range from just 20 to 27. But we took the win and ran with it.”
With the Pressure Chamber victory, the startup gained credibility, good press, and a positive buzz at the Forward Festival, an annual tech and entrepreneurship gathering in Madison that attracts more than 5,000 attendees, which took place at the same time.
Although Fergus didn’t come back to Madison from his October trip with any commitments from Silicon Valley venture capitalists, he says the visit laid the groundwork for potential future investments.
“It made us smarter, helped us refine our business plan, and made us understand the research and analysis we’re going to have to do,” he says. “When it comes time for our Series A round of $3 million to $5 million in 12 to 18 months, I know the first calls I’m going to make.”