Sydney start-up Pinion’s have-a-go spirit inspires backing from Microsoft’s Bing Fund

Australian gaming start-up Pinion has been selected as one of the first companies to participate in Microsoft’s new Bing Fund, after raising almost $2 million from Australian investors.


Pinion, based in Sydney, was founded in early 2010 by Daniel Ringland, Karl Flores and David Banham, who wanted to create an advertising network targeting an audience of online gamers.


Pinion’s mission is to support the online gaming ecosystem, helping gaming communities generate revenue by placing gamer-targeted interactive advertising on their servers.


More than 450 gaming communities are already part of Pinion, and major advertisers have included Sony, Xbox, McDonald’s, Chevrolet, Budweiser, Warner Brothers and Adidas.


Earlier this year, Pinion partnered with popular PC gaming service Valve, which is regarded as one of the world’s largest game developers.


This helped them secure $1.5 million in funding from Australian investors, on top of the $400,000 they raised a year ago.


Ringland and Flores recently ventured to Seattle to set up Pinion’s US office, while Banham remained in Australia to build out Pinion’s engineering team.


The start-up has now been accepted into Microsoft’s newly-launched Bing Fund, an angel investment incubator led by VoodooPC founder Rahul Sood.


The Bing Fund will work with start-ups and accelerators to bring “a wave of innovation” to Microsoft’s Online Services Division (OSD).


Pinion joins US-based app development service Buddy as the first two companies accepted into the program, which, according to Ringland, will run for four to eight months.


Both companies will receive subsidised use of Bing’s APIs, mentoring, funding and access to co-working space in Bellevue in Washington, which is where Microsoft’s OSD is located.


“We came to the US to expand the [Pinion] concept and follow some other leads,” Ringland told StartupSmart.


“We’ll receive introductions within Microsoft to help us with the business, and Microsoft will provide mentors as well.”


While Ringland and Flores are now permanently based in the US, the rest of the team remains in Australia.


“We have a total development team of five, and two guys dedicated to running the community. We have administration as well, so there’s a total of 10 people in Australia,” he says.


Ringland described Sood as a “pretty cool guy” to work with, partly because he “still carries that entrepreneurial, start-up quality with him”.


Meanwhile, Sood explained in his personal blog how he met the Pinion team through contacts at VoodooPC.


“As an entrepreneur, I was blown away by their passion and persistence. Three times they have almost gone broke, and three times they have come back,” Sood wrote.


Sood said Pinion is “doing some great work” with Valve and their Stream platform.


“Pinion is actually working on ways improve the gaming experience, for example by offering up free gaming servers to communities. I love these kinds of crazy ideas,” he said.


Sood said Pinion’s good ideas could come from the “Australian blood, Daniel’s entrepreneurial spirit or Karl’s six years of experience running an award-winning R&B bar in Sydney”.


“The team is full of colourful characters, and they’re already hanging out with us in the Bingcubator… I seriously can’t wait to help the Pinion team achieve their dreams,” he said.


“This company is going places… We couldn’t be happier with the first two companies we have on board. We’re working hard to find the next one.”


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