To steer a successful startup, you have to drive your company forward with relentless enthusiasm. We’ve done that here at PebblePost®. And the results — such as the oversubscribed $31 million in series C funding we recently secured through a group led by Advance Venture Partners (AVP) and Capital One Growth Ventures — have proven that our enthusiasm is well founded.
Surfing on a Whirlwind
Our company is well founded, and focused, too. It seems like we’ve come a long, long way since the idea for what became Programmatic Direct Mail® first came to me in a flash while I was riding a tractor in upstate New York. And in some ways we have. We developed it into a 10-year product and market development roadmap, ranging from real-time interest and intent data to audience- and segment-driven lists that incorporate top of funnel demand generation through mid-funnel engagement and conversion.
It should come as no surprise, then, that none of our progress has been a result of happenstance, dumb luck or a radical change of direction born of panic. At each step we’ve partnered with our strategic investors for a specific reason, very much tied to our vision.
- We chose our lead seed investor, ffVC, for their courage to believe in something that is seemingly contrarian to so many. And they did so while others were kicking us to the curb.
- We chose Tribeca Ventures in our seed extension because of their history of investing in successful startups that applied programmatic solutions across different marketing channels. Their expertise in focusing on what really matters has been spot on.
- We chose Greycroft to lead our Series A because of their focus on digital media and marketing technology, coupled with ecommerce 2.0 brands. They were our #1 referrer of brands BEFORE even investing and have introduced many value-add resources from board members to employees.
- We chose RRE to lead our Series B for their extensive knowledge of digital media marketing technologies and transaction-processing data. We have benefited tremendously from their support and introductions especially in building our next generation platform and products.
- We chose AVP to lead our Series C because of their expertise and associated assets with media and marketing at home. This is a true transitional growth partner helping us navigate our path to building out an enormous and successful enterprise.
- We also chose Capital One to join the C-Round because very few brands know more about direct mail than Capital One and the financial sector promises to be huge for us.
Are We Having Fun Yet? (Absolutely!)
Frank Barbieri, our Chief Development Officer who joined PebblePost in April, says some people think fundraising is the worst part of starting and then sustaining a business. Maybe we’re gluttons for punishment, but we don’t see it that way at all. The truth is, we love it. Severe “adtech” and “martech” headwinds? Cambridge Analytica abuses of consumer info on Facebook? GDPR privacy concerns? The California Consumer Privacy Act? Growth funds sheltering into SaaS models vs always-on revenue? Hold my beer.
The fundraising process forces you to distill all of your experience and hard research and intangible learnings into real metrics that support a powerful story. It essentially makes you stop and think long and hard about who you really are. And that’s how successful companies develop a clear battle-tested identity.
Like most other powerful stories, PebblePost’s is anchored in solid principles that are impervious to the day-to-day vagaries of market forces. Just look at how AVP Managing Partner David ibnAle (who joined the PebblePost board of directors) described Programmatic Direct Mail® the day the funding deal was announced:
“The platform marries the brawn of direct mail with the brains of digital technology and data science.”
In other words, we’re creating exactly the kind of meaningful mail I envisioned on my tractor that day that now seems so long ago — but really wasn’t. Much like last weekend in the same field with my father and two sons, my 11 year old in our Suburban doing his first solo - working both the brake and gas pedals. The baby starts growing up.