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Swapping out the old business
Swapping out the old business
Auditude
Palo Alto, Calif.
First place winner, Rice 2005 Business Plan Competition

"I applied to the competition when I was at UCLA as a means to practice for my own school's competition," says Nicholas Seet, founder and CTO of Auditude. "We had no intention of winning, so we were completely blown away."

At the time, Seet's concept was to use proprietary tracking technology to monitor ads on radio and television. The team had determined that 5% of ads weren't played correctly or at all, which meant lot of advertiser money was being wasted.

Along with top honors at Rice came a $100,000 investment from the GOOSE Society, which later added $1 million more to its investment. Using that startup capital and cash from other business plan competitions, Seet launched Auditude. He quickly hit a roadblock: While advertisers loved the technology, the agencies that make media ad buys were less inclined to purchase it. "It made them look bad," says Seet.

In 2007, Seet and his team dropped the idea - but not entirely. Seeing potential in the online video arena, Auditute shifted directions and worked to apply the same tracking technology to the Web. They rolled out the concept with MTV Networks and MySpace, delivering over-lay banners on top of the video and tracking their performance.

The original team of five became a staff of 30, which will soon become even more - especially if the economy continues to sag. "A lot of Web sites need this technology," says Seet. "Online video advertising is so far behind Web advertising that they really need help serving the ads. We do that."

NEXT: A bright smile dazzles the judges

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