John Carpenter | Jan. 23, 2014 | Chicago Tribune and Blue Sky Innovation
Sean O'Brien '12 and Evan Wray '12 with their award
TextPride, which makes branded stickers and emojis that mobile messaging apps can offer as paid upgrades, won top nationwide honors in Miller Lite's Tap the Future new-business pitch contest, announced at MillerCoors' Chicago headquarters on Wednesday night.
The Ohio-based company, founded in 2012 in a University of Notre Dame dorm room, walked away with $250,000, which it adds to the $1 million in seed money it recently secured.
Co-founder Evan Wray said TextPride is preparing for a worldwide launch in February, when its products will become available to more than 450 million users.
TextPride has licensing agreements with more than 200 brands, including sports teams and major colleges and universities, with more than 8,000 branded stickers and emojis built around those brands, Wray said. Much of the seed money, along with the contest winnings, will go to licensing more brands.
The idea is that texters — for example, fans of a particular sports team — will be willing to pay to use those images in their texts.