Marketing

India’s Hansel raises $4M to bring its app development platform to the US

Hansel, an India-based startup that enables more agile product development inside companies, has pulled in $4 million as it seeks to expand its business to the U.S.. The startup was founded in 2015 and it operates a real-time mobile app development platform that simplifies the process of product iteration inside companies. That’s to say that once a product is launched there’s a lot of work that is done to develop it, test new ideas and optimize but many companies overlook the process or lump it with the general engineering, which includes initial product development. Hansel argues that product development and iteration are different, and its wider aim is to enable dedicated ‘product ops’ inside companies that until now never considered the process to be distinct from app development, or pe...

MallforAfrica goes global, Kobo360 and Sokowatch raise VC, France explains its $76M fund

Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Harley-Davidson to expand EV lineup, may include scooters, bicycles Sokowatch closes $2 million seed round to modernize Africa’s B2B retail B2B e-commerce company Sokowatch closed a $2 million seed investment led by 4DX Ventures. Others to join the round were Village Global, Lynett Capital, Golden Palm Investments, and Outlierz  Ventures. The Kenya based company aims to shake up the supply chain market for Africa’s informal retailers. Sokowatch’s platform connects Africa’s informal retail stores directly to local and multi-national suppliers—such as Unilever and Proctor and Gamble—by digitizing orders, delivery, and payments with the aim of reducing costs and increasing profit margins. “With both manufacturers and the small shops, we’r...

Market research firm GlobalWebIndex takes first VC with $40M Series A

Market research firm GlobalWebIndex, which provides consumer insight data for marketing purposes for customers including Google, Spotify, WPP, IPG and Omnicom Group, has closed a $40 million Series A round. The funding is its first VC raise, almost a decade after the business was founded. The investment comes from New York-based growth fund Stripes Group, along with a number of other unnamed data, software and consumer technology companies. GWI says it will be used to accelerate product development and for international expansion, including in the U.S. and Asia.  The company is based in London but has recently opened offices in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as having technology hubs in locations across Europe. With the new funding it says it’s planning to open more international o...

SessionM customer loyalty data aggregator snags $23.8 M investment

SessionM announced a $23.8 million Series E investment led by Salesforce Ventures. A bushel of existing investors including Causeway Media Partners, CRV, General Atlantic, Highland Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers also contributed to the round. The company has now raised over $97 million. At its core, SessionM aggregates loyalty data for brands to help them understand their customer better, says company co-founder and CEO Lars Albright. “We are a customer data and engagement platform that helps companies build more loyal and profitable relationships with their consumers,” he explained. Essentially that means, they are pulling data from a variety of sources and helping brands offer customers more targeted incentives, offers and product recommendations “We give [our users] a ...

Alibaba boosts its offline reach with $2B+ investment in outdoor digital marketing firm

Alibaba is investing big bucks into offline distribution. The Chinese e-commerce giant has forked out $2.23 billion in exchange for a sizeable piece of Focus Media, a Shanghai-based company that operates outdoor digital advertising screens across China, Singapore and Hong Kong, according to a U.S. filing. The deal itself is broken up into a few pieces. Alibaba itself is paying $1.43 billion for a 6.62 percent share of Focus Media, which is listed in Shanghai, It is also spending $504.7 million to buy 10 percent of an entity (managed by Focus Media founder and chairman Jason Nanchun Jiang) which controls 23.34 percent of Focus Media. In addition, an Alibaba-aligned fund called ‘New Retail Strategic Opportunities’ is buying 1.37 percent of Focus Media, while Alibaba itself is planning to exe...

The brains behind one of marketing’s biggest hits are out to reshape the industry again… with direct mail

Postie, a new Los Angeles-based startup, has a vision for the future of advertising and marketing — and it’s direct mail. Founded by some of the men responsible for the biggest hits in online marketing (like the Dollar Shave Club commercial that launched what became a billion dollar acquisition) think that its time to take technology where it’s never gone before — into targeted, direct mail campaigns using the best ad-targeting that money can buy. [embedded content] Postie uses a combination of online data collection and an on-demand print and mail technology to give its customers turnaround times on print orders in as little as 24 hours and what the company boasts is the equivalent of online ad-targeting. Using the service, customers can access demographic, interest and behavioral data of...

We love augmented reality, but let’s fix things that could become big problems

Cyan Banister Contributor Cyan Banister is a partner at Founders Fund, where she invests across sectors and stages with a particular interest in augmented reality, fertility, heavily regulated industries and businesses that help people with basic skills find meaningful work. More posts by this contributor Penn Jillette Turns To FundAnything To Become A Bad Guy Despite Flaws, Ashton As Jobs Is Worth Seeing Alex Hertel Contributor Alex Hertel is the co-founder of Xperiel. Augmented Reality (AR) is still in its infancy and has a very promising youth and adulthood ahead. It has already become one of the most exciting, dynamic, and pervasive technologies ever developed. Every day someone is creating a novel way to reshape the real world with a new digital innovation. Over the past couple of dec...

PlayingViral helps marketers grabs millennials’ attention with quick, interactive surveys

PlayingViral founders Steven Wongsoredjo and Michael Rendy Millennials have been accused of possessing shorter attention spans than goldfish. Though that claim is questionable, online marketers know display ads and even sponsored content are no longer enough to attract twentysomethings. PlayingViral gives brands a new way to lure young consumers with embeddable surveys and quizzes that use machine-learning algorithms to reach the right audiences. The second Indonesian company accepted into Y Combinator (after bill payment platform Payfazz), PlayingViral finished the accelerator program last month and is now getting ready to expand in the United States, Canada, Brazil and other markets. PlayingViral is part of Nusantara Technology, a tech and media group that develops marketing tools for cl...

Insider raises $11M to help internet marketers do better internet marketing

Insider, a service that aims to help brands go about their internet marketing with greater efficiency and success, has landed an $11 million investment led by Sequoia India. The startup is originally from Turkey where it began life in 2012 as a platform that helped optimize online marketing campaigns. Now at 240 staff across 16 markets, it recently moved HQ to Singapore and today it launches its new ‘Growth Management Platform.’ Those three words together don’t really tell much about Insider’s new product, the aim of which is to help brands, marketers and website owners generally serve dynamic content that is tailored to their visitors. The idea according to Insider CEO Hande Cilingir — who is one of six co-founders of the business — is to give a visitor the most optimized version of the s...

The case for boosting enterprise software startups with services

  Martin Casado Contributor Martin Casado, is a general partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. He was previously the cofounder and chief technology officer at Nicira, which was acquired by VMware in 2012. One of the truisms of software business strategy is that services is bad business; heck, we’ve also said it. The reason, put bluntly, is that it’s a business with low margins and is not as scalable. So in the early days of bringing to market a complex enterprise software product, the repeated feedback I got from nearly all my advisors was to make sure customers were paying for software licenses, not services. (Although I remember when receiving this advice in the early days of Nicira that I wished I even had the problem of money coming in the “wrong” way in the first pla...

Bose is carving out $50 million for startups using its new audio-focused AR tech

The high-end audio technology company Bose is getting into the augmented reality game with a new product and a $50 million fund devoted to startups that will develop services for its new platform. While most of the industry is focused on a visually augmented experience, Bose is most concerned with the intersection of sound and vision. The Bose AR prototype, which was unveiled at South by Southwest in Austin this year, will use visual information captured by the glasses and add contextually relevant audio information to its wearer. Bose’s AR kit is a “wafer-thin” acoustics package that the company hopes can be added to headphones, eyewear, helmets and other wearables to give a new spin on reality “augmentation.” The company said the new technology can be controlled with voice commands, head...

German antitrust office starts asking questions about online ad platform giants

Germany’s national competition regulator has announced it’s looking into market conditions in the online advertising sector, responding to concerns that a lack of transparency could be skewing market conditions. It could open up a full sector enquiry depending on results of its initial probe. The antitrust office says it will start by looking into the effects of technical developments on the market structure and market opportunities of the various players involved. It also specifies it will investigate whether large ad platforms like Google and Facebook are operating as “walled gardens”, and consider their potential impact on competition. Together the two tech giants accounted for more than 60 per cent of US online ad spending in 2017, according to eMarketer. “Due to the great economic imp...

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