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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 24, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Kelly Smith launches Pressplane, with Web who’s who backers

After big hits with Imagekind and Shelfari, Kelly Smith’s Curious Office incubator has launched a new venture called Pressplane with $1.7 million led by his friends at Second Avenue Partners.

Board members include Second Avenue’s Mike Slade and MTV’s Mika Salmi.

Here’s how Smith described the venture in his announcement:

Unfortunately, I can’t say exactly what we are working on but I can say it is another “buy and sell marketplace” like our last company (Imagekind) but more around designers and creative content serving businesses. We’re obviously not competing with our new Imagekind owners (CafePress) but we are able to take what we learned from Imagekind and apply much of it to this new initiative.

I’ll bet it’s going to provide creative, design and print services for businesses, using the framework that made online art and frame store Imagekind a success: A well-designed, friendly interface that simplifies services that have largely been provided by storefront businesses.

One clue is that the company was recently looking to hire print and interactive designers, especially “print designers who also have a marketing or business development interest.” Candidates should also knowledge of “blogging, conversational marketing, promotions and e-mail campaigns, banner ads etc and previous e-commerce design experience,” the listing said.

Smith said the company has five employees and plans to keep it small, maybe reaching eight within a year.

“I really wish I could say exactly what we are up to but the truth is that this would needlessly give potential competition some view into our thoughts and we still have a lot of work to do before we can actually ship something,” he said via e-mail.

Investors read like a who’s who of Seattle Web startups:

Salmi, who started AtomFilms here and is now MTV president

Zillow boss Rich Barton

Former Expedia Chief Executive Erik Blachford

BuddyTV founder Andy Liu

Whitepages.com founder Alex Algard

Madrona Venture Group’s Geoff Entress

Startup veteran Andy Sack, who founded Judy’s Book

Curious Office co-founder Adrian Hanauer

Tech investor John Cunningham

Former Corbis Chief Executive Doug Rowan

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