SnowShoe Raises $1M Round, Releases Kits to Public

SnowShoe, a startup founded in Wisconsin, continues trying to make its mark. This week, it announced the release of new software it says will let anyone “build digital experiences” out of real-world toys. It also announced investors have pumped $1 million into the business.

SnowShoe makes what it calls “clever pieces of plastic” that interact with touchscreens on smartphones and tablets. The plastic “stamp” is shaped in a pattern that the screens recognize, and when used with apps running SnowShoe’s software, it can launch games, go to websites, or download content.

The stamp is decidedly low-tech and doesn’t use batteries, power, circuitry, antennas, radio, radio-frequency identification (RFID), near-field communication (NFC), or Bluetooth. It’s pretty much a piece of plastic, but with the software, it can be used to verify identities and validate purchases. Other uses include pairing the stamp with a toy or collectible item that could unlock features in a mobile game, or touching a concert ticket to the screen and triggering a download of the musical act’s latest single.

Previously, SnowShoe-compatible websites and apps could only be built by capable software developers. SnowShoe says it has updated the technology so anyone can easily design simple, “stampable” Web pages and designate what each plastic stamp should do when it links with that website.

Three University of Wisconsin graduate students founded SnowShoe in Madison in 2011. The company is now in San Francisco, but it has a production and fulfillment facility in Madison.

SnowShoe has twice been a part of the Techstars startup accelerator, going through the Boulder, CO, program in 2013 and the Techstars-run Disney Accelerator in Glendale, CA, in 2014.

SnowShoe’s $1 million round was led by Lowercase Capital, and Collaborative Fund, MESA+ Capital, and VaynerRSE participated. SnowShoe says it has raised a total of $3.5 million, with previous investors including the Foundry Group’s AngelList syndicate, 500 Startups, and Wisconsin-based angel investors.

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