St. Louis Startup News: Mod Notebook in Sync with the Cloud, Bonfyre is Hot, Clink Delivers Drinks

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It’s a Mod, Mod World
St. Louis-based entrepreneurs Marshall Haas and Jon Wheatley have launched Mod, a high-quality notebook that works like a traditional notebook, in that users can take notes, draw pictures or write the great American novel by hand. Then the magic happens. Ship the notebook back to the company (using the prepaid envelope) and three to five days later, Mod digitizes the information using their technology and your handwritten brilliance is synchronized with the cloud. Users can have the notes synced with Dropbox, Evernote, or OneNote, or view it on the Mod app, all for $25 dollars. Plus you get the notebook back if you want it.

Mod co-founders Marshall Haas (left) and Jon Wheatley Courtesy of Mod
Mod co-founders Marshall Haas (left) and Jon Wheatley
Courtesy of Mod

Haas and Wheatley aren’t strangers to the startup scene. The pair founded Need/Want, the parent of several companies including Mod, Smart Bedding—a product that attaches a top sheet with a duvet cover—and Peel, an ultra-thin cellphone case. Individually, Haas founded Arch Grant winner Obsorb, a customizable work platform for small businesses that was acquired by Canadian company MetaLab for an undisclosed amount.

Bonfyre Burns Brighter
Social media app Bonfyre has introduced video sharing capabilities. The app allows people to create private social networks around groups or specific events. Users at a music festival, for instance, can chat, share photos with audio captions, leave comments and use emoticons. Recently Bonfyre debuted location capabilities, allowing users to locate Bonfyres and join them. And now video sharing is part of the line-up. Video clips can be up to nine seconds and can be uploaded from phones or Bonfyre. The video-sharing capability positions the company to capitalize on the dramatic rise in online video use.

Say It With Booze
The next time you’re thinking about sending flowers to cheer someone up, ask yourself, “Wouldn’t they really enjoy a bottle of booze instead?” That’s what Erin Keplinger thought, so she teamed up with friend Brendan Marsden and launched Clink, an online purveyor of fine wine, whiskey, beer and champagne. Their offerings are carefully chosen, mostly from small-batch vineyards, distillerie, and craft breweries with the help of sommeliers and mixologists.

Prices range from a reasonable $20 to over $400 for some special items, but who wouldn’t love getting a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch ($289.99)? If your friend prefers mixed drinks, send their favorite cocktail setups for just a sip over $40 and up. Bottles are shipped in wooden wine boxes by St. Louis-based company, Box For a Bottle. (We’ll be writing a review of aforementioned Johnny Walker Blue, just as soon as Clink sends us a reviewer’s sample.)

Huge Upswing in St. Louis Startup Investments
St. Louis Regional Chamber has released a new report stating St. Louis-area startups raised more than $380 million in equity investments in 2013. That’s six times more than what startups raised just last year. The figure does not include self-financed deals or debt financing.

Angels in the Outfield
With the NCAA strongly encouraging athletic departments to create well-rounded student athletes, volunteerism is becoming increasingly important. Seeing an opportunity, Krista Clement created Helper Helper—a startup that helps college athletes hook up with volunteer opportunities—while she was a student at St. Louis University last year. First reported by Brian Feldt at St. Louis Business Journal, Helper Helper has now closed on a $150,000 angel financing round.

The app helps athletes engage and measure with community volunteer opportunities while also allowing universities to measure their student athletes’ involvement. Clement is piloting the platform with the athletic departments at both the University of Michigan (where she was a student athlete) and Saint Louis University. According to the Journal story, Clement hopes to be at more than 25 schools by the end of this year and roughly 70 percent of Bowl Championship Series schools by the end of 2015.

Follow Christopher Reilly on Twitter @ChristoReilly