Thanks to Explosive Growth, Quikly Snags $3 Million Investment

Detroit-based digital marketing startup Quikly announced this week that it has closed on a new $3 million round of funding. Ann Arbor’s Plymouth Ventures led the round, with participation from PennStro Ventures, BRMR (a subsidiary of BDS Capital), Hyde Park Angels, and Tappan Hill Ventures. As part of the deal, Kevin Terrasi, a partner at Plymouth Ventures, will join Quikly’s board.

Quikly launched in 2012, after founder and CEO Shawn Geller relocated to Detroit from Philadelphia at the behest of Dan Gilbert’s Detroit Venture Partners, one of the company’s first investors. At that time, millennials were coming into their own as a powerful bloc of consumers drawn to new, tech-inspired discount deal platforms.

Groupon was in its heyday back in 2012, and major brands began scrambling to make their discount offers more compelling to the coveted 18-to-34-year-old demographic by offering them digitally in a way that could be shared on social media and hopefully go viral.

Quikly aims to spark some of that frenzied virality by offering limited-time deals and discounts through Facebook that decrease in value the longer someone waits to claim them. As sales have grown by 200 percent over the past two years, Quikly has worked with national brands like Victoria’s Secret, Pet Supplies Plus, and Domino’s. Geller said the goal is to change how major consumer brands are communicating to increase impact, drive engagement, and create loyalty and brand awareness with their customers.

“We’ve honed in on what we do well and where we fit in the market,” Geller said. “We’re focused on helping brands with a more enterprise, evergreen strategy instead of one-off campaigns. There’s also a big data component that we’ve been focusing on. Brands know the power of data, and they want to capture information about their customers like email addresses and social media likes.”

Geller describes Quikly as so far being an exciting journey, one in which the company eventually figured out how to provide more value for marketing dollars than many of its competitors. “People really like that excitement-driven promotional blast,” he added.

Across all of the brands it has worked with, Quikly has engaged with close to 10 million consumers, Geller said. The company has also enjoyed several months of profitability, which Geller expects to fluctuate as Quikly ramps up operations this year.

The 25-person Quikly team is currently located in the Madison Building, but is preparing to relocate to its own space downtown to accommodate growth. The company plans to use the new funding to expand its sales and hiring efforts; Geller expects to have close to 40 staffers by the start of 2017.

When asked what his biggest challenge has been so far, Geller said it was continuing to stay relevant in the perpetually evolving marketing industry. When listing company successes, he is particularly proud of not growing or hiring too fast—even when some of his business coaches were telling him to do so. “We’ve had a lot of success going against what people have advised,” he said.

Geller predicts 2017 will be “a monster year for growth—our focus is to scale the number of customers, introduce new functionality, and expand our offerings within the platform.”

He also said it’s an exciting time to be in Detroit, even more than when he first arrived four years ago. “There are so many resources and people willing to extend that Midwestern helping hand,” he explained. “I tell new entrepreneurs here to take advantage of that and don’t expect to know all the answers.”

Geller said he’s also deeply appreciative of the guidance and resources Quicken Loans chairman Gilbert has provided to Quikly, calling him instrumental to the company’s success.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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