Inmar Buys Digital Coupon Startup Hopster in Wiegand’s Latest Exit

[Updated 11/3/14, 2:50 p.m., to include comments from Hopster and Inmar executives.] In another exit for Wisconsin serial entrepreneur Brian Wiegand, e-commerce technology provider Inmar has acquired Wiegand’s digital coupon startup Hopster for an undisclosed price.

This marks the fourth tech startup that Wiegand, Hopster’s CEO, has guided to a sale. BizFilings, NameProtect, and Jellyfish were acquired in deals totaling $87 million, Wiegand has said. His previous company, Alice, is the only one that has failed.

“It’s really great to be able to come back strong with another acquisition, a success,” Wiegand tells Xconomy.

Middleton, WI-based Hopster provides coupons that can increase in value the more that consumers engage with a brand, say by liking a Facebook page, signing up for a newsletter, or watching a marketing video. Consumers create a profile on Hopster’s website, and it tracks each user’s purchases with the personalized discounts, which can be redeemed through either printable coupons or syncing the discount with a retailer’s loyalty card. Individual user data can also be shared with brands if the user agrees to it.

Inmar, a 4,000-employee company based in Winston-Salem, NC, says it was attracted by the Hopster software’s ability to generate measurable online engagement between brands and their customers, with offers that reach targeted audiences and provide “true one-to-one marketing.” Hopster has accumulated more than 3 million users, Wiegand says.

Inmar will integrate Hopster’s technology with its own suite of marketing products, which include paper and digital coupon processing, consulting services, data analytics, rebates, and consumer behavior research. Inmar customers include retailers, manufacturers, and trading partners in a variety of sectors. The company was founded in 1980 by John Whitaker, the son of an R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company executive, as a coupon processing business.

Brian Wiegand

Wiegand

Founded in 2012, Hopster raised $4 million from Wisconsin angel investors, with the biggest chunk coming from New Capital Fund in Little Chute, Wiegand says.

Hopster could’ve continued “going it alone” against the competition and held out for a potentially better acquisition offer in the future, Wiegand says, but he and the executive team felt it was the right time and Inmar was the right fit. Wiegand will stay on as Inmar’s senior vice president of digital.

Inmar has thousands of clients, many of whom it has served for more than two decades, says Hopster co-founder Craig Andler, who now becomes Inmar’s vice president of channel sales.

“It gives us a chance to really accelerate our strategies,” Andler says. “This is a big industry with a generally slow sales cycle. They should really be able to help bring our products to market faster.”

Hopster will keep its name and its Middleton office, which hopefully will grow, Wiegand says. Inmar is in the process of evaluating the startup’s 16 employees to see what “roles they will play” in the combined company, Inmar senior vice president of marketing Sharon Joyner-Payne says.

“We are very pleased to have Hopster, Inc., join the Inmar team,” Inmar chairman and CEO David Mounts says in a press release. “It became evident during our due diligence process that the Hopster team has rich capabilities—not only on the technology side, but also in building and maintaining strong client relationships.”

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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