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Greasing FreeWheel

An internet advertising technology company gets big bucks.

This story appears in the August 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Doug Knopper wasn't excited about looking for this year. San Mateo, Calif.-based FreeWheel, the internet advertising company Knopper co-founded in 2007, had raised only enough money in a previous venture fundraising round to make it through 2009. And with VC investments looking sluggish, he wasn't feeling optimistic about his prospects. Rather than risk running low on capital, Knopper and FreeWheel's co-founders Jon Heller and Diane Yu decided to start fundraising again in late 2008.

You + 5k =
What would Shannon Lucier, founder of San Diego-based Bombshell Stamps, do with an extra $5,000?
Last year, Shannon Lucier, founder of the highly successful Monster Graphics design company, turned one of her hobbies into a second revenue stream. Bombshell Stamps creates unique rubber stamps based on pinup models, tattoos and other nontraditional designs. With $5,000, Lucier says she could easily double or triple Bombshell's bottom line, and she's sure she could leave her mark on the stamping world. "Commissioning more work would help to increase the artists' recognition and add to their professional portfolios," she says. "As an artist myself, this makes me feel like I'm paying it forward to all those who gave a starting artist the chance to shine." --Jason Daley

$2,000 Hiring artists and paying for new custom art for stamps
$2,000 Producing new stamps
$1,000 More advertising in craft-related media
As it turned out, the process went fairly quickly. After meeting with nearly 30 different VC firms, the company completed a $12 million Series C funding round in March. The major funder was new investor Foundation Capital in Menlo Park, Calif., with participation from previous investor Battery Ventures. In addition to providing funding, Foundation will also offer hands-on expertise, as general partner Ashmeet Sidana joined FreeWheel's board of directors.

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