LoudCrowd is tapping into user-generated content to enable brands to attract and retain customers.
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The Austin-based company raised $2.2 million in seed funding in a round led by LiveOak Venture Partners, with participation from existing investor Active Capital and angel investors including Steve Schaffer. In total, LoudCrowd has raised about $2.28 million in funding, which includes a pre-seed round in late 2019.
As part of the investment, David Stewart, venture partner at LiveOak will join LoudCrowd’s board of directors.
“We believe that we are witnessing the democratization of marketing, and that the most successful brands in the world will increasingly leverage their customers to grow,” said Stewart in a written statement. “LoudCrowd has built a platform that enables brands to scale their earned media with measurement tools and customer incentives.”
Gary Garofalo and Justin Papermaster founded LoudCrowd in 2019 and are big believers in “customer-led growth,” the idea that a brand’s most valuable marketers is its customers, Garofalo, CEO, told Crunchbase News.
“Customers are the most powerful marketers,” Garofalo said. “The concept of word of mouth has always been around, but in 2020, the opportunity for customers to amplify a brand is more important than ever. The reach of the content that customers provide is more than a brand can do.”
LoudCrowd’s user-generated content platform provides analytics that brands can use to see which customers, influencers and content are driving the most value, as well as an automated rewards programs to encourage customers to post on social media.
Brands can then use that information to scale and manage ambassador programs, while also engaging with the most valuable customers and rewarding them.
The new funding will be used to scale the team in engineering, sales and marketing, as well as build new products, some of which will debut in 2021, Garofalo said. Those will include automating social marketing engagement, benchmarking brands, and measuring customer long-term value.
“We went live in January, and growth has been explosive since May,” Papermaster said in an interview. “When the pandemic dust settles, people may not be going into stores, but they will want to know what their friends are buying. COVID has created huge tailwinds, including month-over-month revenue of 40 percent.”
LoudCrowd’s product is turnkey at the moment, but the company’s goal is to make it self-service in the next year, which will change its go-to-market strategy from reliance on sales channels to brands signing up via its website, Garofalo said.
Future of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is a big business attracting customers and investors. The global influencer marketing platform market size is projected to reach $23.5 billion by the end of 2025 and grow 26.8 percent each year, according to Million Insights.
A well-known example of influencer marketing is Cameo, a Chicago-based company connecting celebrities with fans who buy their time, attention and influence for personalized shout-outs and promotion. The company has raised $65.2 million in total venture-backed capital since being founded in 2017, most recently a $50 million Series B round, according to Crunchbase data.
Meanwhile, Pat Matthews, founder and CEO of Active Capital, said in a written statement that LoudCrowd is addressing the future of marketing, which will be “organic, social and customer-led.”
“There is such an overload of paid and influencer based marketing in the market right now, leaving audiences fatigued and craving authenticity,” Matthews said. “LoudCrowd makes it incredibly easy for brands … in a time where they desperately need it.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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