Connecticut Innovations (CI), a quasi-public investment entity, recently invested three-quarters of a million dollars in deets Inc., a web-based technology company in Westport.
The investment in seed funding is a part of a $1.5 million round of fundraising overseen by deets and represents the latest in a series of investments CI has made in Connecticut startups.
The technology company is in the midst of developing a platform and mobile application that gives users more control over their social interactions. Using a customizable mobile dashboard, users can quickly create groups and manage multiple teams, projects and topics.
“It’s a killer product that replaces group texting,” said Luke Scott, co-founder of deets. “And I’m not just saying that because we built it.”
Scott is also a partner at the creative agency Madison Mott, which is helping the platform create its product design and strategy.
Scott described the app by comparing messages on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to cities, and messages between families or coworkers as villages.
“There’s so many things for people to connect from,” Scott said. “We need to focus on the villages. People want small communal spaces and settings.”
So while users will still be able to broadcast their thoughts to the general public on Facebook, they’ll also be able to seamlessly plan Thanksgiving dinner with their extended family or receive messages from their child’s little league coach from the same platform. In the future, deets plans to charge for extended information sharing, such as uploading files, primarily targeting businesses that use the platform.
Linda Miller, deets co-founder and CEO, approached Scott on developing the product after working on several other successful websites. In addition to working for online travel companies Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, Miller has also launched another web-based business, Style-Card.com. Now, her latest idea and project is deets.
The phone app has been available through iTunes since August and the Android version is scheduled to come out in January. Fewer than 10,000 users have downloaded the app so far, but iTunes recently featured the app on its “What’s Hot” list.
The CI funding will “lengthen the runway,” Scott said, and will go primarily toward product development and hiring.
CI was formed by the Connecticut legislature in 1989 to help fund emerging companies with strategic capital.
Today, CI funds all of its investments and various programs through returns to its current investments, without relying on any taxpayer dollars.
Without CI’s investment, Scott said he didn’t know if the company would have stayed in Connecticut. Miller lives in Connecticut and California and could have easily brought the platform to the West Coast, Scott said. But with the grant, the platform’s Connecticut address is now cemented. Additionally, CI will be represented on the company’s board of directors.
“It’s nice to have this come out of Connecticut because we really have a lackluster presentation when it comes to tech products,” Scott said, mentioning most tech companies are headquartered in Boston or California. Scott is also a key leader in the Connecticut Creative Corridor movement, which is an effort to rewrite Fairfield County’s bedroom community reputation as a hotbed of creative talent.
Though a version of the application is already on the market, Scott said users can expect major enhancements in the future like better file sharing tools and integration measures. The group also plans to create a desktop version of the application to give users flexibility wherever they are.
“We’re focused on letting people create groups and share information with the right people,” Luke said. “We’re really trying to do something different that is breakthrough. It’s the definitive platform.”