Modo Labs Closes $4M Series A, Looks to Take Education and Enterprise Apps by Storm

11/1/11Follow @gthuang

Score one for open source startups. Modo Labs, a Cambridge, MA-based mobile software company, is announcing today it has closed a $4 million Series A round from Storm Ventures and New Magellan Ventures. The round includes $2 million that the startup raised last year; the new money ($2 million) comes from Silicon Valley-based Storm, led by founding general partner Tae Hea Nahm.

Modo Labs, which grew out of MIT’s Mobile Framework project, makes an open source software platform called Kurogo, which helps universities and other organizations put their information online and make it quickly available on devices like smartphones, tablets, and so forth. Lots of colleges are already using Kurogo for their mobile sites, including Boston College, Brown University, Harvard University, Middlebury College, University of Vermont, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Modo Labs says it wants to open up its platform to student developers.

But the 20-person company sees a big opportunity in enterprise apps as well. Specifically, big banks and hospitals need the kind of tech support Modo Labs provides, the company says. And it’s about more than making tools for developers.

“We have some really deep interest in making sure the users’ experience is the best they can be,” says Modo Labs CEO Andrew Yu. That means providing “solid and robust templates” so that enterprises can get their websites and apps up and running fast, he says.

Modo Labs is “aggressively hiring right now for developers” of native and mobile Web software (both iOS and Android), says chief technology officer Marshall Vale. He stresses that business customers “absolutely have to deal with multiple device types” across operating systems, handsets, and tablets, and that his company’s software is optimized for that.

Storm Ventures has a couple of notable companies in its portfolio that are complementary to Modo Labs: MobileIron (mobile device management for businesses) and Appcelerator (enterprise mobile development platform).

On a more human-interest note, Storm Ventures is a particularly apt name. Yu, Modo’s CEO, was scheduled to fly out to the West Coast to pitch the firm in August, but his flight was canceled because of Hurricane Irene. So he had to do the pitch by phone. While there was some concern about the geographic distance from a main investor, Yu emphasizes that Storm “really understood this space and was really willing to work with us.”

Let’s hope the unseasonably early October snow, and future storms, don’t wreak havoc for Modo and its investors. It could be a long winter in Boston.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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