Milo, a startup betting that Americans will be as likely to use the internet to inform purchases at local stores as to replace them, has raised $4 million from a roster of big name investors. The company’s search engine — which is linked up with the real-time inventories of over 42,000 chain stores, including Best Buy and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) — lets shoppers find items currently available near to them. “At a super high level if you look … at U.S. retail sales, only five percent are done online,” CEO Jack Abraham tells us. But, he says, a significant number of those making in-store purchases research those buys first on the internet.
He says Milo is on track to have more than one million users this month — a number he says has almost been doubling each month since its beta launch a year ago (Compete figures show Milo.com had 250,000 unique users in October).
The funding round was led by True Ventures. However, a number of well-known investors, including YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) CEO Magid Abraham, Hunch CEO Chris Dixon, serial angel investor Ron Conway, and Aaron Patzer, who sold Mint.com to Intuit earlier this fall, also participated.
Abraham says the cash will be used in part to develop ways to track the number of purchases Milo actually drives, something that could eventually create a revenue stream for the company, since Milo would be able to take a cut of sales. One possibility, Abraham says, is to add coupons to the site. Others could involve analyzing transaction data in some way to track sales. Funds may also be used to accelerate the company’s growth via web advertising.
Competitors in the market include the more-established Krillion, which also offers a way to search inventory at local stores in real-time and has raised funds from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and Leapfrog Ventures.