Entrepreneur backs politician, politician backs his startups

Scott Jones, serial entrepreneur, has received an additional $8 million in funding from Mort Meyerson, formerly of Perot Systems and EDS, for his startup ChaCha. You'd think with such wealthy backers, Jones wouldn't have to tap the public till. But no: ChaCha was recently granted $2 million from Indiana's 21st Century Technology Fund administered by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to build new, innovative features. What are these innovations that will debut next year, and how did the already well-funded startup receive this state-funded aid?

The services that ChaCha is adding to its search engine is search via text and voice over telephone devices. Hardly a novel concept. It's essentially 411 with operators searching Goo — sorry, ChaCha for results. So why did the cash-strapped state provide the millionaire with a couple more million?

It certainly doesn't hurt that close friend Governor Mitch Daniels, whom Jones has helped raise a million dollars for his reelection bid, is the Chairman of the Board for the IEDC.

In fact, Scott Jones scored twice. His other company, Precise Path Robotics, which builds robotic golf-course mowers, received just less than $2 million as well. For what purpose? To improve the existing robot's precision "[u]sing an innovative positioning system that surpasses GPS." (No word on whether Precise Path is launching satellites, but I suspect its innovative positioning system is as sophisticated as operators providing search results over the telephone.)

Fortunately for Jones, there are few competitors in Indiana for technology-related funds, and he has all the right friends. Which is, as everyone knows, always the best business plan, whether you're in Indiana or Silicon Valley.