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Two former Google employees prefer the startup scene at Spring Metrics

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

By Allan Maurer

Shannon Bauman

Shannon Bauman

DURHAM, NC – How do you get Google employees to move to Durham, NC and join a startup? Persistence worked for Spring Metrics, an analytics company that helps e-businesses understand what drives their revenue online. The company has signed two former employees of the search engine giant, a former product manager and an engineer.

“We didn’t actually look specifically for people who worked at Google. We were just looking for people we think are the best out there,” says Doug Kaufman, co-founder and CEO of Spring Metrics. But, he adds, “It does make the interview process easier knowing that Google puts them through the wringer.”

Google is known for its rigorous and daunting employee interview process.

Shannon Bauman, the former Google project manager, for instance, was asked: How many tennis balls fit in a 747? Why are manhole covers round? What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Bauman was at Google’s Mt. View headquarters for most of his four years with the company, but spent a few months at its Chapel Hill office prior to co-founding Spring Metrics. “There were a lot of smart people at Google,” he says.

“It was a shock to be in an environment with so many people smarter than me. It was daunting at first, but you learn to value it. There is a very open and collaborative environment there that helps foster the ability to get information from other people’s brains and make better products.”

Bauman says that when he started at Google, “It had 2,000 people. Four and a half years later, it’s 20,000 people. I was really more interested in working with smaller companies. I figured I’d learned  a lot at Google, but the the things I’d keep learning by staying there were not as important as those I would learn by going to a startup. I thought of doing one myself, then met Doug and joined Spring Metrics.”

Networking paid off

He notes that he did a lot of networking when he first came to the area and “The Google name got me through a lot of doors.” At a Southern Capitol Ventures brunch, Jason Caplain introduced him to Kaufman.

“I love the Triangle,” he says. “The people the greenery, the space. It has so much going for it.” He admits, however, it is a bit harder to do a startup because there is less venture capital and angel money and fewer engineers than in Silicon Valley. “The more people you have in an ecosystem, the more things happen. California has ten times more people.”

Spring Metrics got its start with Launchbox Digital, the only Southeast accelerator to make a list of the top ten in the U.S., recently, then nabbed a $635,000 seed round from LaunchBox Digital, CBC New Media Group, Zelkova Ventures and Steve Vanderwoude and Lee Buck. The company’s product simplifies Web analytics to show only the data affecting the bottom line. It lets users see what is driving revenue and how they can actively generate more conversions.

Kaufman says that “If it were not for LaunchBox Digital, we probably would not have started this. Because of it, we knew we would have a much better chance of getting funding.”

A startup can do what a big company can’t

Patrick Scott

Patrick Scott

The company also set its sights on a Google engineer, Patrick Scott. The firm started talking with him at a very early stage, but as he saw where the company was going, “He realized it wasn’t going to fall off the map in five days,” says Kaufman. “So he got more comfortable and excited about a startup.”

But there was one other piece that worked in Spring Metrics’ favor. “There is something a startup can do that a big company can’t,” says Kaufman. “That is to really show someone how valuable they are. For us, pursuing this engineer, he knew we could only hire one guy. We showed him and told him how valuable he would be to us. We didn’t want just any engineer. We wanted him.”

That, he notes, “Goes a long way with people.”

Kaufman says the five-employee company is working on taking its product to another level. “We’re going to make this more useful, bring on another marketing person and bring on customers,” he says. While the firm is not looking for additional backing right now, “We will be,” says Kaufman.



Durham-based Spring Metrics nabs $635K seed round to spot DNA of conversions

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Spring MetricsDURHAM, NC – Spring Metrics, a company that helps e-businesses understand what drives their revenue online, has secured a $635,000 seed round from LaunchBox Digital, CBC New Media GRoup, Zelkova Ventures and Steve Vanderwoude and Lee Buck.

Founded in August 2010, the company is focused on helping e-commerce businesses understand the DNA of their conversions.  By breaking conversions down into their fundamental components, then showing exactly how they fit together, e-commerce companies can clearly see what drives revenue and how they can actively generate more conversions over time.

Co-founder and CEO Doug Kaufman tells us the five person firm “Came from scratching my own itch. I was running a different company, sold part of it and was doing online work with a education site I had started. It sold study guides and other products and I was having a hard time understanding why some people were buying and some weren’t.”

He searched for a software product to help provide the information he wanted. “I couldn’t find it, so I said, ‘Let’s build one.’ ”

Among the types of things Spring Metrics helps e-retailers spot are “the wrong types of traffic.” For instance, he said, “If someone found my old site, Alleydog, designed for college psychology students, they would not buy from me if they found it by searching for dogs.”

That could mean a marketing campaign is not on target.

Spring Metrics shows users how people get to a site, what key words they searched for, and which page they landed on, but more importantly, it puts all the data points together “To tell a story about the user buying from you,” says Kaufman. “We call think of that as the DNA of your conversions,” he adds.

The company says that traditionally, analytics tools are too complicated, produce overwhelming amounts of data, and leave users to figure out what it all means. As a result, it‘s been said that 90 percent of a company’s website analytics budget should be spent on people to make sense of the data that the tools spit out.

By breaking conversions down into their fundamental components, then showing exactly how they fit together, e-commerce companies can clearly see what drives revenue and how they can actively generate more conversions over time.

“Our early customers have raved about the Spring Box, and described the real-time dashboard as highly addictive,” said Kaufman. “They love the fact that the exact information they used to hunt for in other analytics packages is presented to them in a concise, and actionable format.”

“Small Businesses today face numerous challenges when trying to understand exactly what drives their online revenue growth,” said Lee Buck, Partner at LaunchBox Digital.

“Spring Metrics’ unique model brings sophisticated, automated online marketing intelligence to small and medium businesses that lack the resources to interpret the onslaught of analytics data. The company’s progress to date has been impressive, and we are excited to work closely with such a talented team.”

Buck will join Spring Metrics’ Board of Directors, which includes Steve Vanderwoude and Jimmy Goodmon. — Allan Maurer

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90 Days Work in Eight Minutes: LaunchBox Digital 2010 Demo Day

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio
Joe Procopio

RTP was a dark place for startups in the late 2000s.

When Chris Heivly first told me about his ideas for an accelerator program in the RTP, it sounded like an impossible task, but his passion was evident. At the time, I was just beginning to toy with the idea of ExitEvent, my own take on a digital startup community with accelerator style tools, and Chris and I shared the same frustrations.

But I knew if anyone had the skills to pull off an actual real-live incubator here, it was Chris.

RTP is #1 on the  “Places Where We’re Headquartered” List

RTP is an awesome place to live, with so much quality of life that you can actually wake up to the sound of chirping birds and the distinct scent of vanilla wafting into your bedroom.

The area has more talent than you can shake a geek at, and it has most of the foundational tools in place for entrepreneurial success: A fair number of startups, helpful organizations like CED, NC IDEA, etc., and enough behemoth techie companies to bring in even more new talent and also invariably barf out decent crops of early-stage entrepreneurs.

So where were all the big success stories?

That question was the basis of several coffees (well, coffee for me, Chris doesn’t touch it, which is mind-boggling considering the demands of his chosen occupation), to discuss not so much the why, but the why not. Something was going to happen, that was inevitable. It was just a matter of when, how, and, of course, could it be sustainable.

Enter Lunchbox

When LaunchBox decided to move here a little more than a year ago, the stars aligned, mountains got moved, and everything started happening at breakneck speed.

That culminated at the first LaunchBox RTP Demo Day. It’s the third overall, if you’re keeping score, with the first two taking place in DC and producing, out of 17 companies accelerated, a ridiculous nine follow-on rounds and three exits.

People, those are good odds.

Ice… pocalypse?

The funny thing is it almost wasn’t. A freak wave of ice (well, if you’ve lived here long enough, it less “freak” and more “twice yearly”) put the Demo Day show in serious jeopardy. In fact, as I write this from the safety of my palatial offices (or “rumpus room”), I am NOT currently at this evening’s follow-on reception. But that’s cool. I’m all about the information, I’m not in it for the free drinks.

I’m sorry. I stopped for a minute to laugh.

Anyway, as I was on my way to American Tobacco for the show with the radio blaring warnings like “ZOMG! DO NOT GO OUT OF THE HOUSE! IT’S CHAOS! STAY AT HOME AND EAT YOUR FRENCH TOAST!” I expected the worst. Turns out, it was very well attended. And when I thought about it, I realized that I shouldn’t have been surprised. LaunchBox isn’t the only force behind the event, or even their own program. Far from it.

More Important Than Money

The biggest strength of LaunchBox is, without a doubt, the 100+ investors, mentors, and advisors on board to help the program and the companies within. Chris told me this. The startups themselves told me this. “More important than the money,” echoed one of the founders.

The second biggest strength is the outpouring from the community, mostly local, but even from folks like David Cohen from Boulder’s TechStars, who, along with TechStars co-founder Brad Feld, held an event here back in November that included spending a day with the LaunchBox startups.

Ice? That problem already has a solution. It’s called “gloves.”

So the investors, mentors, advisors, supporters, various community members, and I think I saw the Solid Gold dancers, all gathered in Bay 7 along with a covetous roster of investors from here as well as Boston, NY, even the West Coast, to watch these seven startups compress 90 days of sheer labor into eight minutes.

So Who Won?

Speaking of David Cohen, he gave Chris some advice early on – every week someone will ask you which company is the winner and every week you’ll have a different answer. Turns out this was indeed the case. Each company had and has its own strengths and shortcomings.

I’ve had several chances to drop by LaunchBox and talk to some of the startups, including one final visit last week before all the commotion. Here’s a take, as English as I can make it, on each one.

HealtheMe tackles obesity via a personalized learning “behavioral DNA” algorithm delivered via web and mobile. Before LaunchBox, they’d already been operating for three months with 40-50 subscribers.

Leaguescape allows for legal online betting on the data around fantasy sports. Yes. Legal online betting around fantasy sports. Aaron Houghton wondered aloud to me why they would need money in the first place. I answered: “Full page ads that say ‘Yes. This is legal.” Then degenerate sports and numbers freaks like me will knock their doors down.

Slipstream produces a Twitter plugin that reduces noise in the timeline by selectively hiding tweets based on information you give it.

Keona Health started life as a product development and research company but now they have software with a decision engine that optimizes primary care physician admissions, suggesting whether to come in and how to triage. UNC’s Campus Health is on board, and that’s their target market.

Fiscal Pie is online personalized financial planning and advice using social networking  and peer group comparisons. They thrashed quite a bit during the semester, probably the most of any of the companies.

CityPockets converts daily deal (think Groupon) customers into return customers with CRM & targeted follow-up deals. Think retail hacking with a loyalty program.

Spring Metrics came away with the most buzz, which is odd when you consider they came to LaunchBox with “an idea on a napkin” but not at all odd when you consider the team, which is fantastic. Their software collects web analytics data and provides intelligence that connects directly to sales and customers.

Yeah, But Who Won?

We did. Was the event successful? I’d say hell yes. There were more people in Bay 7 on an icy, ugly, frozen morning than there probably were in all the schools and most of the hospitals.

And back to the lack of success stories and the why not? This is a great start. The when is obviously  NOW (think big flashing neon letters) and as for the sustainability, well, that remains to be seen. After all, LaunchBox didn’t get that track record overnight.

But they’ll do it all over again with the application process in April.

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for sports media startup StatSheet ( He also retains ownership in consulting firm Intrepid Company ( and creative network Intrepid Media ( Maybe his problem is all the coffee. He can be reached via twitter @jproco.

NC IDEA awards $200K in grants to five startups

Monday, January 10th, 2011

NCideaRESEARCH TRIANGLE, NC – NC IDEA has awarded $200,000 in grants to five North Carolina startups.

NC IDEA’s grants program is a catalyst for technological breakthroughs developed in North Carolina that have a significant potential to successfully transition into commercially viable high-growth enterprises.

“We are sure to see some exciting developments from our recent grant winners over the coming months,” said David Rizzo, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “These five recipients emerged to the top of one of our most competitive grant cycles to date. The quality of the approximately 100 applicants was impressive. NC IDEA remains committed to funding these young companies that are poised to become viable, high-growth enterprises and contribute to North Carolina’s job growth and economic development.”


The following five companies are NC IDEA’s most recent grant recipients for the Fall 2010 cycle:

HEALTHeME – Durham, NC

The HEALTHeME’s digital therapeutics platform empowers people to manage their own health via the web and their mobile phone. The HEALTHeME platform combines clinical treatments and sophisticated artificial intelligence to create customized plans based on users’ lifestyles, health goals and personality type. Leveraging real-time coaching, social networks and the user’s own healthcare providers, HEALTHeME provides truly tailored care outside the clinic walls. Its first product scales obesity treatment and has been launched in three states including North Carolina. To date, data shows that HEALTHeME’s users’ achieve double the weight loss as other mobile health products at 3 months. Learn more at

PowerChalk – Cary, NC

PowerChalk is the first and only web-based sports motion telestrator that lets users upload, markup and voiceover videos without installing high priced, hard to use (and harder to configure) software. Already in use by major league players and teams, PowerChalk is changing the face of sports instruction. Learn more at


RemedEase – Durham, NC

RemedEase offers a patented method and device as a new and novel treatment for nosebleeds, suffered by millions of Americans every day. It requires only that the device be slipped under the top lip where it significantly curtails the primary flow of blood to the nose in approximately 1-2 minutes. It is easily distinguished from other nosebleed products – none of which are both patented and FDA approved and all of which require that the device be inserted in the nose cavity directly, therefore being much more invasive to use.

Scion NeuroStim – Raleigh, NC

Scion NeuroStim has developed an inexpensive, non-invasive neurostimulator that is being used in a highly successful pilot study to treat migraine patients. The underlying science involves stimulation of innate protective pathways in the body to treat pain. The goal is to provide a device that can be used in either the physician’s office or eventually the patient’s home. The company’s current focus is on expanding clinical studies using the device and achieving FDA clearance for its commercialization.

Spring Metrics – Durham, NC

Spring Metrics helps you grow your online business by providing a deeper understanding of your customers and how they interact with your website. The company does this by making complex web analytics more friendly and digestible for marketers and e-commerce professionals who don’t want to wrestle with the complexity of traditional analytics products. With an easy-to-use interface that requires no coding knowledge, Spring Metrics eliminates the hassle of creating conversion funnels and goals. The company’s real-time dashboard offers an array of conversion-oriented metrics, and the Insight Engine unearths actionable patterns in the data—patterns that help you turn more visitors into paying customers. Learn more at


The upcoming Spring 2011 grant opportunity for North Carolina based companies will open in mid-February. Learn more about NC IDEA’s grant application process, timeline and criteria at

Since its inception in 2006, NC IDEA’s grants program has awarded approximately $1.9M to 52 companies across the state, with these most recent awards being the tenth cycle of the program.

NC IDEA’s grants program is a catalyst for technological breakthroughs developed in North Carolina that have a significant potential to successfully transition into commercially viable high-growth enterprises. The grants, which are up to $50,000 per recipient, support business plan research and development, reduce risk of early failure and advance projects to the point of suitability for angel or venture capital investment.

Jobs: Five LaunchBox startup companies seek help

Monday, September 20th, 2010

LaunchBoxDURHAM, NC – The LaunchBox Digital startup program says a number of its early stage firms need help.

Those seeking employees include Spring Metrics, which is building “next generation web analytics.” The team includes experienced entrepreneurs from Google, Motricity, and Blackboard and is looking for a part-time contract to work on the user-facing side of its application.

Work would begin ASAP. Send resumes and any relevant URLs to Cover letter not necessary.

Leaguescape, which plans to become “the one-stop destination for fantasy sports betting,” is looking for an intern or web designer with UX talent and design skills. Contact for your interest/questions.

HealtheME, a mobile health and web-based obseity mangement platform is loking ofr a developer for front end web work and content experts in nutrition, excercise physiology, and behaviorists/psychologists. Contact: if you are interested.

CityPockets Inc. is looking for a web developer with good back end development experience.

CityPockets is an online voucher management platform for group-buying sites such as Groupon, Living Social, BuyWithMe, etc. It helps users store and organize all their pre-paid online vouchers from over 130 group-buying sites in the US.  Users can set custom reminders, share purchases with friends, see merchant locations on one map, and more.

See if you are interested.

Keona Health is empowering patients with personalized recommendations on whether to see a doctor and when, leading to improved safety, efficiency, and lower costs.  It has partnered with top researchers at UNC and Duke to develop this system.  We are looking for Java and .NET developers who have experience working with databases, XML, web services, and web applications.

Send email to to if interested.