Bootstrapped Jetpack brings ad-tech innovations to the publishing long tail

Sensing a market opportunity, Marc Brown, Kevin Woolery, and Chris Tragos, founding team members of the successful pop-culture publisher BUZZMEDIA (now Spin Media), decided to strike out to compete through innovation in the fast-paced digital advertising industry.

Quietly bootstrapped in Santa Monica since 2009, their startup Jetpack has been creating rich media products for publishers with a focus on customization, responsiveness, and consumer engagement, helping publishers generate more revenue from their content. At the same time, they’ve built powerful tools for their self-serve platform, allowing advertisers, publishers with developer resources, and now designers to create high-impact digital advertising experiences.

Kevin, Jetpack’s CTO, explains that they’ve designed an advertising platform “comparable to an ad delivery system such as DoubleClick, but focused on non-standard ads, such as overlays, large video display, and active skins.” These types of high impact ads help maximize the revenue potential of a publisher’s content in the quickly changing landscape of digital advertising. You’ve probably seen Jetpack-powered digital ads if this looks familiar:


Click to see a live Video Wall demo

jetpackQRResponsive and mobile-optimized ad experiences are also changing the game, and creative approaches are essential to capturing the tremendous percentage of traffic coming from mobile browsers and apps. You can see some pretty cool examples by going here on your smartphone or scanning this QR code:

Specializing in creating these rich media campaigns has allowed Jetpack to grow successfully without outside funding. But they’re also building innovative technology that could change the landscape of rich-media digital advertising in a big way. The newest version of their turnkey platform features designer-focused tools, including many types of ad units and responsive design. Previously, the tools were created with developers in mind, limiting the self-serve option to companies with the developer assets to spare. The new versions will open up tools to many more companies to use the platform directly, helping accelerate the unit creation process, allowing for more iterations, and decreasing cost to the publisher or ad agency, even when only a designer is available to build the ad unit.

The tools use an intuitive interface which arms any designer with the relevant javascript library they’d need to create these high-impact ads without prequalified knowledge. You’ll soon start to see some advertisements with decidedly more punch than banners, even on content from smaller publishers.

If you publish content and want to explore new revenue strategies, or you’re a designer considering becoming an ad-tech hero, leave a comment below and let us know what innovations you’d like to see in the future.

Hovelstay: honest, anti-luxury housing for the adventurous traveler

Finca7Glendale-based Hovelstay calls itself “The Anti-Luxury Marketplace” and lists honest lodging descriptions, anything from guest rooms to hammocks in tree houses, helping backpackers and adventurous travelers immerse themselves in their new locale.

Working at an LA vacation rental company, Michael Womack and Michael Bolger became increasingly fed up listing IKEA-furnished studios whose owners inevitably hyped them as “luxurious.” Honesty in vacation rental descriptions was hard to come by and the term luxury was cheapened to the point of disdain.

The two created a site, part joke, part experiment, to list properties with blatantly honest descriptions. If it was a dump, they Continue reading

Fingertip Maestro IndieGoGo Campaign: 30 iPads in 30 days! Kids & Music is the Future!


Fingertip Maestro is a revolutionary music-making app for people of all ages and abilities. From children to adults. The app enables those with no musical training, to instantly play music convincingly, with the feeling and texture of a real musician.

Fingertip Maestro App



With your help, we want to raise $12,500 in 30 days to cover the costs of buying and donating 30 digital tablets to the Los Angeles Boy & Girls Club Continue reading

TripScope wins CROWDFUNDxLA

Yesterday evening at ROC, Crowdfunder and Social Media Week L.A. showcased their 10 finalist startups for the CROWDFUNDxLA pitch competition in front of a panel of investor judges. When all was said and done, local upstart travel technology company TripScope took home the grand prize, including a fast-tracked meeting with Launchpad LA‘s investment committee.


TripScope is a B2B software solution for travel agents that allows them to bypass the current archaic system in which important information is communicated to clients via hardcopy and PDF. Using TripScope, agents are able to enter vital details and pertinent information through a browser interface which populates a traveler-facing iOS app, complete with push notification support for time sensitive changes and communication.

What really got the judges’ attention was the fast progress the startup has made. Founder and CEO Katelyn O’Shaughnessy, a luxury travel agent by day, took her knowledge of industry specific problem areas to a hackathon earlier this year, and despite having no tech or startup experience before, she has made huge progress on both product and business development in a very short time.

We were so impressed with how far you’ve come, that you didn’t know anything, really, about tech, but because you have such individual experience with your product, and you really executed a product that many people who work in tech for a long time don’t do as thoughtfully as you did. We’re really excited to see what you do with it.

Jamie Kantrowitz, Partner, Launchpad LA

Continue reading

And…. we’re back.

We said goodbye to a fantastic summer this past weekend, capping it off at Venture Pong in Venice. Now it’s time to get back to the grind!

VP-GPStartups are doing more and more great things here in L.A., so stay tuned for news and updates.

In case you hadn’t heard, it’s Social Media Week in L.A. right now, so there’s plenty to keep you busy if you’ve got some free time.

logo-crowdfundx-localWe’ll be at CROWDFUNDxLA this evening at ROC in Santa Monica. I highly recommend you consider attending; it’s not too late.

Three Ways to Improve Your Logo

By Lee Decker // CEO, Creative Director // Vytal Los Angeles // // 818.277.7171


I woke up one morning to an email from a new client, “Lee – …get me a logo done by next week so we can move onto more important things”. It was 5:30am and I stared at my iPhone, taken aback. “More important things?” I thought.

I wrote back: “Hey [client name], Yes, we are starting with your logo to build your brand identity, but I’ve got to tell you: your logo is something that could make or break your business — one small mistake could lead to future trouble…let’s spend a little more time than that with development”…

Later that day I got a call from the president of the company yelling at me, saying that I didn’t make the rules in this arrangement, the logo was the least important aspect of the campaign and that if I wanted that retainer check it would be in my best interest to follow their schedule.

I immediately fired that client. I didn’t want to be a part of any organization that didn’t care about their first impression with their future customers.

That being said, I am writing this short article to help you educate yourself on how important a logo is for your brand or company. Continue reading

How to Protect Your Startup’s Intellectual Property

pirate-flag-1024x819When you start a business, protecting your intellectual property (IP) should always be a major focus.  In the pre-internet era, IP wasn’t always a primary concern. Businesses were more about tangible goods and services, and information traveled “slowly” via mediums like newspapers and TV broadcasts. Today, everything has changed drastically, and protecting your intellectual property is a necessity.

These days, new businesses emerge onto the scene at lightning speed due to lower barriers to entry and greater accessibility to information, both of which are provided by the Internet. Competition is more prevalent in every industry because your competitors have the ability to reach your potential customers all around the globe, making geographic barriers to the distribution of goods and services almost non-existent. As a result, companies must do whatever possible to protect themselves if they are to survive and eventually thrive.

One major way you can protect your company and ensure it’s on the right track to grow Continue reading

Assignmint is getting writers paid.


Assignmint founder Jeff Koyen at Zinque in Venice

20 year journalism veteran Jeff Koyen made the move from Brooklyn to Venice and launched Assignmint to help fix the relationship between freelance writers and editors, especially around the issue of timely and organized payment.

Assignmint could have chosen to provide solutions for writers or editors, but instead decided to stay in the middle. As a veteran journalist from both sides of the table (rather than a “startup kid” looking for a space to disrupt),  Koyen argues that professional writing doesn’t need to be disrupted; it’s the frayed relationship between writers and editors/publishers that needs to be repaired. Central to that solution is fixing the disorganized and outdated methods of hiring and paying freelance writers – or pitching and getting paid, from the writer’s perspective.

As the internet changed the way written content Continue reading