Leap2 closes $1.6m round led by Dundee VC, launches new apps

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Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 12:00 am

The Leap2 team—including (from far left, top) co-founder Mike Farmer, director of product Tyler VanWinkle and advisors Thad Langford and Dan Carroll—in front of its offices in the Kansas City Startup Village.

In its quest to reinvent the mobile search experience, Kansas City, Mo., startup Leap2 today announced it closed a $1.6 million round of funding and launched the latest version of its iOS and Android apps.

Since its start more than two years ago, Leap2's interface and functionality has evolved as the team tries "to reimagine what search is," director of product Tyler VanWinkle recently told Silicon Prairie News. In the new version, a user's search pulls together web content, images and real-time social and local results, which can then be filtered. The experience has been overhauled into a layout (below) that aims to combine "the serendipity of web surfing with the precision of search," according to a company press release. Tweets, photos, reviews and more appear alongside websites and news stories.

Information is displayed with an emphasis on visuals, and more importantly, context, said co-founder and CEO Mike Farmer in an interview. "Context is what builds perception. We want to build search that rewards users."

Several Silicon Prairie-based investors have bought in to the vision. Omaha-based Dundee Venture Capital led the startup's recent round of financing. Kansas City, Mo.-based OpenAir Equity, Omaha-based Linseed Capital and Wichita Technology Corporation participated in the round, as well. Before this funding, the startup had raised $380,000.

"In the past decade, the search experience from a user perspective hasn't evolved, other than the addition of more sponsored links cluttering results," Dundee principal Michael Wetta said in the press release. "We all use search engines daily, but none of us like digging through long lists of links to get the answer we need. Search is ripe for innovation, and we believe Leap2 is on the right path."

The latest features include search alerts, an interactive search history, driving directions and a promise of more accurate answers, all meant to create an experience vastly different from the ad-centric one familiar to people.

"Why, as users, do we expect everything to be dressed to the nines but search?" VanWinkle said. "And why are we OK with a 97 percent market share for Google?"

Although Farmer admits the team is "still learning" how to perfect that presentation, they now have more than two years of "building all of this core functionality." He said the pieces are there, it's just a matter of putting them together to create the best experience for the user.

The apps currently are available for free in the App Store and Google Play. For the first time, Leap2 will release a web version shortly after the mobile apps.

 

Credits: Photo from Leap2 blog. Screenshot courtesy Heather Whaling.

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