This year had already started well for a young Oxford start-up company and recently it became even better. Fresh from raising a six-figure sum from angel investors, David Langer and Andy Young, the founders of GroupSpaces, have just heard their company has been selected to go to San Francisco for the Web 2.0 Expo exhibition in April.
They are one of only 20 UK-based start-ups to be selected for Web Mission 2008, an initiative of UK Trade and Investment, the government organisation created to help home-grown companies succeed in the global economy.
GroupSpaces was founded by Mr Langer and Mr Young, both aged 22, in 2006, to develop ideas that came to them while they were both active in a number of societies at Oxford University.
Any club or society can create an area on their site where officials or committee members can manage all aspects of the group.
Comparisons with social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are inevitable, but not exactly accurate.
Mr Langer said: "Those tools are all about person-to-person communication and we are about group management."
The first thought was to be able to promote societies and the opportunities they offer as there are more than 400 of them at Oxford.
Mr Langer explained: "The initial problem we tried to solve was providing a website where people could find out the events and news from these clubs and societies.
"However, we realised there was a bigger problem: looking after their mailing lists, membership management, organising and promoting events, managing a website and so on. If we solved all that, we would solve the original problem too."
As an example, Mr Langer cites the job of keeping a group's website up-to-date, something that is often landed on someone who admits to having a little knowledge.
"What we can do is give people lines of code which will update their own website automatically when something in their GroupSpace area is changed," said Mr Langer.
As GroupSpace updating is very simple, that means other members of the society can now effectively help out with the updating of the group's website.
Mr Langer graduated in June 2007 and immediately started working on the business full time. Mr Young deferred his degree once the round of funding was achieved in February.
They were then joined by Rob Eyre, who had been a research manager and web developer at the Oxford Trust.
He had been researching at young technology companies in Oxfordshire and was confident enough in the idea and the people to join the company full time before the funding was secured.
So how do they plan to use the money?
Mr Young said: "It's going to expand the engineering side of the team."
Mr Langer added: "It will provide security for us and our staff, so we can push the technology forward ."
Up until the funding windfall, the company supported itself on the advertising revenue it had been able to attract from more than 40 high quality organisations including IBM, BP, McKinsey & Company, Bain Capital, Clifford Chance and JP Morgan.
But Mr Young explained this was not viable in the long-term.
"The advertising allowed us to pursue the job in the six months up to the funding being secured, but without the funding, we would now be having to focus on the advertisers and not the development of the product. So our first round of investment is in the technology.
"Then when we go to second round investors, we want to be able to say we've got it to here, if you give us money, we'll take it to there'," he said pointing to the ceiling.
Both Mr Langer and Mr Young are effusive about the support and backing they have had from the Oxford Centre for Innovation (OXIN) and the Oxford Early Investments (OEI) network that OXIN manages.
They are also very pleased with the advice and support they get from their advisory board, which includes Dr John Boyle of Oxford Computer Consultants and Gordon Buxton of Oxinet.
Mr Langer said: "Having good mentors is something we would recommend to anyone setting up any venture. They have been invaluable."
Support was very important in their choice of funding partners, too.
Mr Young said: "We chose these people because when we first met up with them we just clicked.
"They shared our vision, which was important, and latched on very quickly to what we were doing and where we wanted to go."
Now they are the youngest members of the Oxford Entrepreneurs Society to obtain venture funding, and soon they will be off to San Francisco to promote the company and network with Silicon Valley's movers and shakers.