Cody Brown and Kate Ray graduated from NYU in 2010, taught themselves to code and built Kommons–a platform for crowdsourcing questions through Twitter and attempting to peer pressure an answer from public personalities. It didn’t, as they say, get traction. So they built another thing, “Nerd Collider,” a platform for hosting text-centric discussions between experts on the web, sort of like the New York Times’s Opinionator blog. Their latest product, Scroll, is a simple single-page HTML editor that allows publishers to lay out a fancy-looking page that mimics the flexibility designers have for formatting on the printed page. Bonus: the web page is automatically-formatted to look as good on the web as it does on the iPad.
Now, the two-person company is announcing some funding scared up over the summer. “We’ve raised $220,000 in seed funding from The Knight Foundation’s Program Related Investment Arm,” Mr. Brown told Betabeat. “We’re part of Knight’s recent initiative to support for-profit startups that help to promote informed and engaged communities.”
Scroll is targeting media companies such as The Wall Street Journal, but anyone who wants to publish on the web can use it. Ms. Ray tests the app by making LOL-cats (unfortunately, it looks like Cheezburger scooped that angle today). The pair estimates the app’s “time to LOLcat” is somewhere around two minutes.
The money is being used to pay themselves modest salaries and hunt for a third team member. Mr. Brown heads up design, business development and Twitter relations; Ms. Ray is the engineer on the backend. The pair are roommates and work at standing desks on the mezzanine of their sunny Brooklyn apartment. Music is prohibited; Ms. Ray prefers to work with her headphones plugged in but no music playing, she told Betabeat, in order to feel connected to her computer.
Mr. Brown has been interested in new media since he took a journalism class at NYU (he originally wanted to be a filmmaker) and was inspired to launch the online-only student news blog NYU Local, which is still operating four years later. ”I actually still love the taste of ramen,” the 23-year-old told Betabeat. “I bought a 20-pack yesterday.”