Miami's Guide Reels in $1 Million Seed Round for Virtual News Anchor App

Written by Staff Writer.

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MIAMI - Miami-based tech startup, Guide announced it has closed a $1 million round of seed investment from investors including The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Sapient Corp., MTV founder Bob Pitman,  actor and producer Omar Epps, and Google Employee No. 13, Steve Schimmel. The Knight Foundation is supporting Guide through its new early-stage venture fund, the Knight Enterprise Fund.

Led by CEO and founder Freddie Laker and COO Leslie Bradshaw, Guide’s team of seven is  focused on turning online news, social streams and blogs into videos  for users who may be cooking, exercising, commuting or getting ready in the morning. Laker began taking an interest in news readers last year but found the user experience lacking.  “How would I do it if I could? It would be video and I would keep it compelling.”

The application offers consumers a selection of about 20 avatars -– the company calls them  "anchors" and they include a dog,  a robot and an anime character -- that will read articles and present the accompanying photos, pull-out information and video clips in a video presentation. Although Guide’s news reader is capable of delivering any content with a RSS feed, it won’t. “We analyze the content for a great user experience. Some content is not compatible,”  such as long text heavy stories for instance, Laker said.

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