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How ShareSquare Is Leading the QR-Code Marketing Pack This Los Angeles-based company helps fans connect with bands and brands using quick-response codes. Plus, a look at other game-changers in the social-media space.

By Jennifer Wang

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you use shopkick or Foursquare, you already know: Online and offline worlds are colliding as consumers become more comfortable with networks, apps and mobile devices. And as for the companies making it their business to link up the two worlds, they're reaping some serious benefits.

Take, for instance, Los Angeles-based ShareSquare, which uses quick response, or QR, codes (those small black-and-white dotted squares showing up on more and more product packaging and ads) to help convert a moment of consumer discovery into one of action.

QR codes have been around for years, admits founder and CEO Matthias Galica, a graduate of the 2010 Founder Institute startup mentorship program in Silicon Valley. But ShareSquare is making headway where others have failed because musicians--the company's target vertical--are scrappy early adopters.

In just six months, about 10,000 users have already registered with the service, which helps artists connect with fans who scan codes with smartphones to get access to contests, exclusive music videos, song downloads, Facebook and Twitter feeds--and soon, tickets, albums and other merchandise. The paid product ($99 or $499 a month) lets users earn revenue by publishing ads and displaying content on a navigation-friendly mobile site.

"We're reaching a social tipping point, where an average Joe will see a QR code on the street and know exactly what to do with it," says Galica, his confidence boosted by a successful pilot campaign with Hannah Montana's Mitchel Musso; a great showing at SXSW in Austin, Texas; and talks with big media companies like National Geographic and NBC Universal about cross-promoting content on different platforms. Other items on Galica's to-do list: a second round of funding, hiring at least six more employees and pursuing an acquisition strategy to bring in a bigger user base.

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