Venture Capital News: Ink Labs Grabs $6.65M Seed Funding
LINCOLN, NE, Ink Labs announced today the closing of $6.65 million in seed round funding.
Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh's VTF Capital, Base Ventures, G-Bar Ventures, Nelnet and IT-Farm led the round with participation from other investors. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development also participated through Invest Nebraska from Business Innovation Act program funds. Invest Nebraska is a public-private initiative which invests in companies with high growth potential to attract out-of-state capital.
Ink was founded and backed by a Stanford student, the founders of Redbox, the CEO of Zappos, and the president of Warner Bros., who all believe improving small things can lead to big changes. Ink has applied this philosophy, smart technology and a customer-focused model to revolutionize the way students print, and express themselves, on campus.
Ink's signature product, the Ink Smart Station, is more than a printer. It helps higher education address inefficiencies and streamline every day processes to support the optimal student experience. It creates a connected experience for students and empowers campus decision-makers to reduce expenses and generate revenue. Since piloting the Ink Smart Station at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in August 2016, Ink has expanded its presence on campus and is now also at 12 additional institutions.
"Ink has reimagined outdated printing systems by turning the act of printing into an art form. The Ink Smart Station provides a user-friendly and intuitive experience that plugs into the technology and apps today's students are accustomed to using," said Gregg Kaplan, founder and former CEO of Redbox and Ink Board Director. "Ink's student-focused model inspires campuses to tap the full potential of technology and innovation -- not only to create a smart campus but a more connected community."
With the seed funding, Ink plans to expand operations and launch several new higher ed partnerships by the fall of 2017. Due to this rapid growth and expansion, Ink has also chosen to relocate official headquarters from Silicon Valley to Lincoln, Nebraska.
"Nebraska affords Ink with the ability to attract smart, young, loyal talent at scale and offer them a superlative proposition for quality of life," said Ink CEO, Jonathan Manzi. "Apart from aligning in philosophy, we also agree in the strategic decision companies like Zappos and Redbox have made in building their presence outside of the Valley."
"Zappos is a brand that was built on a strong culture and incredible customer service," said Will Young, Director of Zappos Labs. "Staying in Silicon Valley would have been extremely limiting, so Tony and the Zappos leadership team made the decision to move to Las Vegas to build the company around a world class call center which provided the opportunity to scale up as the company grew."
Invest Nebraska, a major player in the advancement of high-growth businesses across the state, led the negotiations for the Nebraska investors syndicate that included Nelnet, Sipadan Capital, Speedway, and the Nebraska Angels.
"We're deeply committed to growing Nebraska's economy by assisting entrepreneurs and cultivating unique startups with innovative ideas," said Dan Hoffman, CEO of Invest Nebraska. "We believe the Ink team has significant potential to contribute to the Silicon Prairie and effectively implement big ideas that have a positive impact for Nebraska students and residents."
To download Create a Better Student Experience: A CIO's Guide to the Internet of Things, a white paper by Ink which explores five things CIOs need to know about improving the student experience with IoT, visit https://whitepaper-rollout.inkcloud.me.
For more information about Ink, visit https://inkcloud.me. For more information about Invest Nebraska, visit http://investnebraska.com.
The Ink Smart Station is an advanced printing solution that leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) and is built for today's connected world. Sleek, intelligent and intuitive, the Smart Station provides college campuses and students a new and improved printing experience. Serving as a Smart Campus Hub, Ink offers students easy and streamlined capabilities to print, share and send files from anywhere, anytime. Designed by a Stanford student, with support from the founders of Redbox, the CEO of Zappos, and the president of Warner Bros, Ink helps higher education address inefficiencies and tap the full potential of the smart campus.
To learn more about Ink Smart Station, visit https://inkcloud.me and follow them on Twitter.
About Invest Nebraska
Invest Nebraska is a public-private partnership funded by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to grow the state's economy by supporting high-growth, early-stage companies in Nebraska. Invest Nebraska works directly with entrepreneurs, researchers and businesses to help commercialize their technologies, launch and grow new businesses, and access needed capital.
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