Ramen Raises Cash for Crowdfunding and Collaboration Software

2/26/14Follow @MichaelXBD

Ramen is heating up. No, not the meal well known to hungry entrepreneurs and hackers, but a Boulder, CO-based startup of the same name.

Ramen, which is just a few months old and has won a major hackathon, said Monday it has raised a seed round and has begun courting customers.

So what does Ramen do? In the words of co-founder and chief technology officer Ryan Angilly, it is a crowdfunding site for software developers that helps them raise money and fosters collaboration between startups and customers.

Ramen “helps software startups find their first customers, and then not only get a check from those customers, but to work with them to develop [a minimum viable product] as fast as possible,” Angilly said.

At first glance, Ramen looks like a crowdfunding platform, like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, that’s aimed at software projects. While it follows the familiar crowdfunding model, Ramen plans to offer more than just money for entrepreneurs and rewards for donors, Angilly said. It wants to help those two groups work together on their projects.

Ramen’s idea is that startups that raise money with Ramen will want to actively collaborate with their supporters as they develop a project. That could include discussions about product design or the feature set.

To smooth the process, Ramen is developing what it calls “the Kitchen,” which will contain collaboration tools like Pivotal Tracker’s project management software. Teams with successfully funded projects will get discounts or free access to the tools.

Angilly’s goal is that Ramen will become one of the first sites that developers and entrepreneurs turn to when creating a startup. They’ll be able to find technical help, early customers, and also seed funding to supplement or replace money they’d otherwise raise from friends and family.

The startups also could find validation that would help them raise additional angel and seed rounds, Angilly said. A successful Ramen campaign would show there is at least some interest in the product, and startups would have a working product after the collaboration phase to show to potential investors. A startup could then turn to AngelList, say, to raise additional funds.

Angilly said Ramen will take 5 percent of the amount a campaign raises. That’s not a lot, he said, but if the startup boom continues, it will add up.

“I think that the market is massive, if you look at all the startups that are being created now,” Angilly said. “Think of tens of thousands of startups raising $10,000 to $15,000 on Ramen and us taking a 5 percent cut, that number gets pretty big pretty fast.”

While still very small and young even by startup standards, Ramen has had some early successes that have boosted its profile. In November, it won the Launch Hackathon in San Francisco, beating out 147 teams in one of the largest hackathons in the country.

That victory exposed Ramen to potential investors and customers and created a helpful amount of buzz, Angilly said.

The startup later raised more than $17,000 on the first-ever campaign on its own website. It has since opened up the crowdfunding portion of the site to other startups, and now has three companies with active campaigns on the site.

On Monday, Ramen announced it had raised a seed round from Jason Calacanis, the CEO of Inside.com, AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant, and Matt Cutler, a Boston-area entrepreneur whose most recent startup, Collaborate.com, was acquired by Cisco in December.

Angilly said the round was small, and the company could be looking to raise a $400,000 to $600,000 seed round later this year.

“We’re trying to play that really slow and take our time. We have that luxury because we raised the $17,000 in December, and we’re running really lean right now,” Angilly said.

Ramen currently is a two-person team, with Angilly and chief creative officer Mathew Sisson. Trada founder Niel Robertson is an adviser.

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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  • Velocity Kick

    Great piece. Velocity Kick is currently one of the four live projects on Ramen. Happy to have the Ramen team “warming up.”

    https://ramen.is/projects/velocity-kick

  • http://rockersinfo.com/ Denis

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