InvestMaryland, the state’s high-tech venture capital arm, announced it has invested a combined $350,000 in two companies: SocialToaster and Reel Genie.
SocialToaster, a Baltimore firm specializing in social media and customer engagement received $200,000; and ReelGenie, an online service based in Silver Spring that creates high-quality videos from a customer’s photos and digital media, got $150,000.
“Supporting our entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses is a top priority for Maryland as we grow our Innovation Economy. Our high-tech entrepreneurs place Maryland at the forefront of innovation and discovery,” said Governor Martin O’Malley in a released statement. “We’re pleased to make these investments in ReelGenie and SocialToaster, as well as the many others that have benefited from the InvestMaryland program, and we look forward to their future growth and success in our State.”
InvestMaryland was created in 2011 to increase public and private venture capital investment in Maryland. The state raised $84 million for the program last year through an online auction of tax credits to Maryland insurance companies.
Two-thirds of the InvestMaryland funds is being managed by carefully screened private venture firms, who are investing the funds with a commitment to return, if successful, 100 percent of the principal and 80 percent of the profits to the state’s general fund.
The remaining third is being invested by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund, which has operated the past 17 years, investing $25 million in local companies on behalf of the state.
More about the companies:
Located in Baltimore, SocialToaster was one of three finalists in the Information Technology category in the inaugural InvestMaryland Challenge, Maryland’s national business competition that awarded more than $425,000 in prizes in April. SocialToaster helps businesses amplify their marketing messages by using their biggest fans to enhance brand awareness, increase and improve website traffic, and expand social media engagement. The company has gained national recognition for its industry-leading platform, with its most notable successes coming in the entertainment and sports space.
The Baltimore Ravens were one of SocialToaster’s first adopters and the company recently launched programs for A&E’s Duck Dynasty and Lifetime Television’s Drop Dead Diva and Project Runway. SocialToaster has 17 employees and plans to increase its staff by about 30 percent by the end of the year. Its latest financing round was led by the Propel Baltimore Fund, a partnership of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), the Abell Foundation and the France-Merrick Foundation.
“SocialToaster has been committed to the State of Maryland and to Baltimore City since our inception, and we’re excited to have that commitment validated by the Maryland Venture Fund. It’s important to us that we maintain strong ties to the community and contribute to the growth of technology innovation in the region,” said SocialToaster cofounder and CEO Brian Razzaque. “The support of the Maryland Venture Fund will help us to not only grow nationally, but to continue to strengthen our roots right here in our own backyard with other great regional organizations.”
ReelGenie, located in the Silver Spring Innovation Center, has four employees and plans to add marketing, software development and business development staff following an $850,000 round of seed investment. In addition to the Maryland Venture Fund, other investors include CNF Investments, investor Cal Simmons and others. ReelGenie’s video service enables people to easily create videos about weddings, vacations, family reunions and other events by transforming a variety of multimedia content, including photos, video clips, narration, music and text, into dynamic films. Users can select a quickly generated automatic video, or take advantage of editing features to develop a customized video. The video can be easily shared online, downloaded, or purchased as a DVD.
“ReelGenie is honored by the strong support shown by the State of Maryland and the Maryland Venture Fund,” said David Adelman, ReelGenie’s founder and CEO. “More than ever, consumers are telling the stories of their lives, both online and offline, through photos, videos, and narratives. ReelGenie empowers them to organize this wealth of data and publish it in a compelling way. We make it easy to create a video with the same quality as a professionally produced movie. We’re encouraged by the overwhelming interest in ReelGenie from users, partners, and investors.”