Embarke, Home from Seattle, Gets $1.25M to Make E-mail Work Better
Last year at this time, Embarke co-founders Al Bsharah and Bryan Hall were working long hours in the Techstars/Microsoft accelerator, a startup crucible in Seattle established under a partnership between the software giant and the Boulder, CO-based startup program.
Strengthened by the experience, Bsharah tells me the two-year-old startup has now closed on a $1.25 million seed round led by Howard Lindzon, the Coronado, CA-based hedge fund manager, angel investor, and StockTwits founder. Anthem Venture Partners of Los Angeles and Chicago’s Promus Ventures joined in the deal, along with other San Diego angels and Townsgate Media of Los Angeles.
Embarke plans to use the capital to expand beyond its current roster of eight employees. “For us, it’s all about hiring,” Bsharah says. The Embarke CEO says the funding represents the culmination of a process that began last year as the two Embarke co-founders met with Techstars mentors and roughly 150 prospective users.
At that time, Embarke already had gone through three iterations in developing a Web-based communications platform that could be used to link together multiple social media channels. The technology enabled a user to post a comment on a website that would be automatically distributed through Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, and e-mail accounts.
But Bsharah says the feedback they got through the Seattle accelerator prompted them to carry out a fourth development cycle—revising the technology and Embarke’s business model to address what he describes as “a big gap in e-mail marketing.” While the volume of marketing e-mail has increased by 20 percent over the past two years, Bsharah says the percentage of people who actually click to open promotional e-mails has declined by 20 percent.
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