Remember YouNoodle? The startup attracted some controversy all the way back in 2008 for saying it could algorithmically predict the success of startups. Since then, the business and the product may have changed, but YouNoodle is still around, and it’s announcing today that it has raised $1.1 million in new funding.
Over the past couple of years, the company has created a site where entrepreneurs can find startup competition, where competition organizers can manage the process (in fact, we here at TechCrunch have started using YouNoodle to handle submissions for the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt), and where larger corporations can get involved.
Startup competitions might not seem particularly promising as the foundation of a business. Indeed, co-founder and CEO Torsten Kolind said YouNoodle is looking at another pivot of sorts. It’s not abandoning those competitions, but it’s trying to build a data business on top of them. On both the data side and the competition side, he suggested there’s a big opportunity when it comes to matching up startups and larger corporations that may want to work with or even acquire them.
“For us, the pivot we have gone through and are still going through is from looking at ourselves as a technology company powering competitions to an engine for powering what we call the global startup revolution,” Kolind said. “We can do that more as a data-focused company.”
To illustrate the kinds of information that YouNoodle could pull from those competitions, it has released the first YN1K report, which looks at the top 1,000 startups that used YouNoodle in 2013. (That’s narrowed down from more than 17,500 entries in 232 competitions.) Among those entrepreneurs, the average age is 29 years old, and 28 percent of them were women. Biotech, healthcare, and science-related startups tended to do better than social media and web apps. And companies with prototypes rather than just ideas also did better.
The funding, meanwhile, came from new investors, including Tony Hsieh’s VegasTechFund and Lars-Henrik Friis Molin of Sweden, as well as previous investor Amicus Group of Korea. VegasTechFund partner Andy White noted that even though YouNoodle is based in San Francisco, and plans to stay in San Francisco, it can still be used to strengthen the network of startups and entrepreneurs in Las Vegas.
YouNoodle is also announcing that it has hired Lael Sturm, most recently of social ticketing startup unseat.me, to lead business development. (Update: It says it’s also announcing the hire of Natalie Surowiecki to lead corporate partnerships.)