TAMPA — One of Jordan Raynor's "aha" moments came a few months ago in a Washington, D.C., sandwich shop. The CEO was sitting on a bar stool next to his wife and daughter when he saw a team of volleyball players walk back and forth past the shop several times before tentatively poking their heads in.
"You could tell they'd never been to a Potbelly (Sandwich Shop) before," he said. But after a quick look around, "they understood the space." And they stayed to eat.
That's what Raynor and his colleagues want to provide for people virtually with their newly-debuted Tampa company, Threshold 360. The company, which was founded in 2014 by Ben Robbins and Stewart Bertron, was previously "incognito," operating in development without a public-facing product. Threshold 360 offers an iOS and desktop app that shows 360-degree view of shops, hotels and restaurants to help people get a feel for the space. Both are currently in beta, or the software phase of development.
Tampa Bay Lightning owner and civic activist Jeff Vinik recently invested an undisclosed amount in the company.
"There's so much information you capture in that millisecond that you cross the threshold and enter in a space," Raynor said.
Currently, Threshold has a database of 360 views for about 60,000 places nationally, roughly 9,000 of which are in Tampa Bay. Images are captured by about 20 "creators" — gig workers who go out to each establishment to take pictures. Threshold generally doesn't ask before adding a shop to its repertoire, but Raynor said only a handful have asked that their establishment not be photographed.
While Threshold was under development for more than two years, it only recently launched in March at South by Southwest Interactive. Several investors are already on board, including Vinik, Tom Wallace and local investment firm Murray-Bertron. Raynor and Robbins wouldn't disclose how much they've raised for investments, but said it was "significant" seed money. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated March 6, Threshold sold $500,000 in equity financing.
That means Threshold will be expanding, Raynor said. Threshold currently has 30 employees — 10 on the corporate side and 20 gig workers. They expect to hire at least 10 people in their downtown Tampa office for software development, business operations and sales. More creators will also be contracted to help document locations nationally, but there isn't a timeline for either set of hires.
Long-term, their business model will focus on licensing their images out to companies that focus on travel and mapping.
Threshold's leadership isn't new to the Tampa startup scene. Raynor previously started crowdfunding platform Citizinvestor, which lets people invest in public projects. Bertron co-founded e-commerce firm Tradex Technologies, which later sold for $1.96 billion in 2000.
The team hopes to energize the local tech scene and make Tampa more attractive to future investors.
"We're not just 'little ol' Tampa,'" Robbins said.
Contact Malena Carollo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @malenacarollo.