The recent "Chewbacca Mask" viral escapade demonstrated one solid truth: The finest minds of Madison Avenue - Don Draper himself (were he real) - could not come up with any advertisement for a product better than a truly delighted and satisfied customer.
Seeing that video (above) either made you want to buy a Chewbacca mask of your own, or at least dreamily hope that you someday might be as happy with a purchase as that woman is with that Star Wars toy.
As of the writing of this article, over 6 million people have watched one woman's giddy excitement, and those numbers highlight both the promise and problem with user-generated content. When you find it, it's like a diamond in the rough and it does what advertising does at its absolute best, made the viewer want to trade places with the person in the commercial. The problem is that when it comes to user-generated content there's a lot more rough than diamond out there, and an ever-increasing number of places to find that content.
Sure there's the the old favorite YouTube, which alone contains countless hours of product reviews, walk throughs, Chewbacca mask wearers, demos, live gaming video, etc., but increasingly there's also Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Amazon and Pinterest all offering different options and variations of user-created content. YouTube alone would be almost impossible for any but the world's largest brands to take on, and once all those other channels are in, well, user-generated content (UGC) might represent a great opportunity for brands, if only there were a place for brands to easily separate the wheat from the chaff.
Meet Yotpo, the startup platform that is hoping to be the thresher in this particular metaphor.
Yotpo is not the only UGC platform out there, but it takes to the task with a broader purview than most. Instead of narrowly focusing on one area - reviews, videos, etc. - Yotpo aims to be the one-stop shop for all a brand's needs when it comes to user content focused marketing.
“We are taking a platform approach as we see that UGC is becoming more and more important to the CMO or VP Marketing who will want one unified platform instead of dealing with 4-5 different vendors,” noted co-founder and CEO Tomer Tagrin. “So that’s one unique thing — all forms of UGC under one roof.”
Tagrin elaborates that Yotpo is also pursuing a "mobile-awesome approach," a rather enthused way of expressing that the Yotpo platform is particularly focused on mobile uploads of user-generated content. Tagrin claim they are the only "mobile-first" user-generated content experience, which they may well be, but they certainly aren't the only or first ones to claim that.
“Because 60 percent of our content is submitted via mobile devices, it’s not enough for a business’s website to be mobile-ready, they need to have an end-to-end mobile-first customer experience,” Tagrin adds.
Mobile-first, and ready to interact with as many platforms as their partners are interested in pursuing. Yotpo's platform is designed to allow firms to solicit any particular type of UGC they are seeking (user-generated reviews, user-generated Q&A, user-generated photos, and user-generated videos etc). The platform further allows brands to go on to market themselves through that content via integrations with Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
So far the young firm has done solid work in funding, bringing in $50 million in investment so far.
Nearly a full half of that funding comes care of its recently announced Series C round, which netted $22 million. Bessemer Venture Partners led the round, along with participation from current investors, including Innovation Endeavors, Marker LLC, Vintage Investment Partners, Blumberg Capital and Access Industries.
Investments for the week ended June 10
A $3.5 billion week is nothing to sneeze at with our investment tracker. Could it be that this is a trend, and not a blip on the horizon? The total tally for the week that ended June 10 came in at $3.6 billion.
In what is a stunning reversal from previous weeks, months and years, the B2B arena claimed the lion’s share of funds flow this past week, representing 67 percent of the total. In past weeks the situation has been the polar opposite, as 97 percent (or more) has been tied to FinTech.
Yotpo, a platform that lets companies solicit content from their users and customers in the form of reviews, Q&As, and photos and videos, for use across various marketing channels, has picked up $22 million in Series C funding.
Leading the round in the Tel Aviv and New York-based startup is Bessemer Venture Partners along with participation from existing investors, including Innovation Endeavors, Marker LLC, Vintage Investment Partners, Blumberg Capital and Access Industries. It brings total funding for Yotpo to $50 million.
So what drove the reversal? The biggest momentum can be explained in one deal, where TPG Capital sold a stake in Nexeo for $1.7 billion, followed by Cotts’ Eden Springs buy at $528 million. These are logistics related deals that sit squarely in the B2B space, and thus have carried the weight of the week.
The more payments-related activity came from the deal that Chinese bitcoin mining company Canaan (aka maker of the first ASIC) was bought by a Chinese electronics firm, Shandong, for $466 million. That would be among the largest deals in the space for a startup among bitcoin players.
Within the banking sector – and that would be the traditional banking sector, small business lender Ridgestone Bank is being acquired by Byline Bank for $105 million. Never let it be said that that the banking industry is turning away from growth opportunities within its (staid) boundaries.