Blog

January 27, 2015

AdTech Startup Launches New Avenue for Brands Through Messaging Apps

There’s no denying that the advertising world is looking for new ways to generate revenue and develop new solutions for their high paying clients. But that’s no easy task. 

The amount of content consumed grows more and more every day. The number of advertising platforms is higher than ever - and growing. Prospective buyers of any product are nearly infinite. 

Yet here we are, watching more commercials than ever, seeing the same pop up ads covering an online article and scrolling past the typical call-to-action for a static promo on our social feeds. 

Here in Boston there are a number of AdTech startups attacking this space with varying solutions. There’s Mavrck, Crowdly, Adelphic (who just raised $11M), Jebbit and many more. 

Workbar has even partnered with leading ad agency, Mullen, to create a collaborative workspace specifically for AdTech startups. 

And now, just out of stealth mode comes InMoji, who carries the mindset of going through brand advocates to capture more consumers. Only this startup is doing so through popular messaging apps, such as TextPlus. 

Perry Tell, Co-Founder and COO of InMoji, spent several years in the advertising world with big players like Ogilvy and Saatchi & Saatchi. As he pointed out to me the other day inside PayPal’s Start Tank, where the now eight-person team is working from, “Conversion of ads is dropping significantly. We need new solutions.” 

Tell, who is based out of San Francisco, giving the startup exposure on both coasts, and Co-Founder & CEO, Michael Africk began working on InMoji about a year ago. They incorporated last May and closed their first funding in July. 

The two reconnected back in 2006 to work on another startup. Many years before that, however, Tell served as Manager for Africk, who was a popular recording artist, who opened for the likes of ‘N Sync in his heyday. 

          

By connecting consumers with their favorite brands through in-message clickable icons called “InMoji,” the startup generates revenue for messaging platforms and enhances engagement for brands. 

Think emoticons with a purpose. Instead of a ‘devil-face’ you get a brand’s logo that can actually add value to your life.

                                      

Some notable brands on board include, Starbucks, Walmart, Drizly and DraftKings. 

While TextPlus, who has 70M users, is the lone messaging partner for InMoji right now, Tell and Africk tell me they are deep in discussion with other major players and expect to announce additional partnerships soon. 

Africk told me, “at the core, InMoji wants to enhance people’s conversations and simplify your life.” 

I was given a quick demo of “life-simplification” through the app. 

Africk sent off a message to a friend to meet for coffee. Clicking the InMoji for Starbucks his friend receives the coffee house’s logo embedded with the address to the specific location. No need to type the address or leave the app to find and address or map. 

Another use enhancing consumer experience would be sending off an invite to a group of friends for a DraftKings contest. And this also happens to be where InMoji makes its money, by receiving a percentage in return from the fantasy sports site. 

Essentially, they are making it easier to communicate without having to leave your messaging app by integrating brands and even entertainment (send over a video of your new favorite song). 

InMoji recently raised a seed round that included investments from David Chang (PayPal Media Network) and Ryan Moore (Atlas Venture). 

On my way out of Start Tank Chang stressed to me how impressed he was at how much progress the InMoji team has made in such a short period of time. 

Africk and Tell told me they have a vision of “changing the behavior within messaging,” and if they keep up with the pace Chang spoke of, they may realize that vision soon than anticipated. 

If you like what you hear and want to meet the InMoji team, they’re holding a Launch Party at Cafeteria on Newbury Thursday 1/29 at 6:00 PM. 

More: Check out Africk being interviewed at CES earlier this year.

Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz.  You can follow him on Twitter @jb_sid
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