Announcing Spare5!

I'm excited to announce the creation of Spare5!  Spare5 is a new company that is creating a mobile-optimized, on-demand service platform that pays people to provide expert insights in their spare time.  This platform solves a huge problem for ecommerce companies who are relying more and more on mobile and images to connect with their customers. 

The two main ideas behind our company are simple: First, we all have spare time, skills, and smartphones.  Our Spare5 app lets people take a break from Candy Crush and play some mini-games that pay them in return for their insights.  We assign tasks to potential contributors based on their experience, hobbies, and the quality of their responses.  Second, every business needs the insights of customers, prospects and specialists.  By breaking up businesses’ data needs into small, fun tasks, we bring them the insights they need – with speed, quality, scale and great value. 

When I led Getty Images’ product team, I bled at the edge of contemporary ecommerce’s greatest dilemma.  This dilemma results from three basic facts.  First, beginning this year, Americans spend most of their digital time in mobile apps, where screens’ real estate is particularly precious.  Second, and related, images play a huge role in determining what content attracts our attention.  Third, even the world’s greatest companies struggle to know which images to present, how, when and why.  Search algorithms are still dominated by keywords.  But the old adage remains true: a picture is worth a thousand words.  We all love pictures precisely because they are so powerful, emotive and often ephemeral. The right person can tell a business more about its pictures than any algorithm or supplier.  Spare5 makes that simple, powerful connection at scale.  While we are starting by emphasizing images and videos, in the near future we will expand the types of insights we provide.

And that brings me to the Spare5 team.   Our new company includes awesome folks who are proven technology entrepreneurs.  Check out our Spare5 team to learn more about Daryn Nakhuda, our CTO; Patrick O’Donnell, our Chief Architect; Matt Shobe, our Chief Design Officer; and Loren Bast, our lead PM for Business Customers.  Our advisors include University of Washington Professor Dan Weld, a leading expert on crowdsourcing algorithms, and Hadi Partovi, Grant Ries and Aaron Easterly.

As if that were not humbling and thrilling enough, we just raised a $3.25M Series Seed round led by New Enterprise Associates’ Jon Sakoda, The Foundry Group’s Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, and Madrona Venture Partners’ Greg Gottesman.  Our angel investors include Oren Etzioni, the CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

We also enjoy a head start as the first concept to spin out from Madrona Labs.  This talented incubation team, led by Greg and Joe Heitzeberg, created the core concept and continues to help us mature the technology.  When Greg and Joe initially approached me with this opportunity, I simply could not pass it up. I’ve always wanted to start my own company.  They presented a compelling concept in an area where I’m passionate, with the backing of Seattle’s leading venture capital firm.

Together we are incredibly excited to empower people to use their spare time productively.  Crowdsourcing is not new, but it is a nascent industry that is ripe for reinvention. We endeavor to shatter the all-too-common paradigm of low quality and high effort.

If your ecommerce company has image or video data needs, we can help you.  Ping us at!

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Matthew Bencke

Matt Bencke is an entrepreneur, leader and change agent who drives new business and product strategies based on deep analysis, inspired leadership and focused execution. He has strong successes across technology, strategy, business development, design, e-commerce, marketing and manufacturing. His passion is attracting great talent, fostering a meaningful team culture, and taking performance to new levels. During his tenures at Microsoft, Getty Images and Boeing he has created, advised, led and grown businesses ranging from several millions to billions in size.