For Postling, Angel Investors Mail in Their Checks

20 Comments

Postling, a New York-based startup co-founded by David Lifson (CEO), Chris Maguire (VP of Engineering) and Haim Schoppik (CTO) — all ex-Etsy folks — has raised $350,000 in seed funding from angel investors including Dave McClure, Chris Yeh, Gary Vaynerchuk and Thomas McInereny.

The company has developed a web-based dashboard that can be used by small- and medium-sized businesses to manage tools and web services. From Twitter to reviews on Yelp and CitySearch to who’s checking into their retail locations to what deals are being made available on sites such as Groupon, Postling will essentially be a meta-tool for everything.

“There are 100s of tools out there that could genuinely provide value to local businesses, if only they had the time and inclination to research them all and use the best ones (which none of them do),” Lifson told me via email. “Instead, we are finding the best ones and using their APIs to create a super easy to use dashboard that combines everything into one place.”

Until very recently, Postling’s focus was entirely different. “We pivoted 3 weeks ago once I realized how quickly the social media management space was commoditizing and all of the competition was compressing into targeting the few companies that would consider paying for such tools – media, PR, agencies – which would put them in a position to ask for all kinds of customizations and services,” Lifson explained, adding: “The real story is this pivot came right before SXSW and I raised about $200k in the 5 days of SXSW – a successful trip.” Indeed.

“We are building an advice recommendation engine to give them guidance,” Lifson said of the companies Postling is targeting as customers. “We want them to turn to Postling and, instead of shoving metrics and numbers in their face, recommend them tangible things to do in 5 minutes, like respond to blog comments or post a photo on Flickr.” I think this approach is a smart one. While I am always skeptical of revenue models based on small- and medium-sized businesses as customers, Postling is providing a truly valuable service for that market.

Two final observations: First, Postling’s business is less about technical wizardry and more about creating a community around the product. Second, the team needs to have flawless execution — lest copycats come in and steal their lunch.

20 Comments

Dave Noreen

Congratulations Postling and DreamIt Class of 2009!!!

Ellen Thompson

The Postling product is already quite usable. The recommendations engine is not there, but we are using it as the backbone for an entire division of my company that is providing a turnkey social media service for the multifamily industry. It is well worth paying for Postling as is (and we are), but I think the pivot will really be game changing as it will automate services some of the services I’m charging a lot to provide.

Congrats, Postling. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Eric Marcoullier

I’m a huge fan of “action not analysis” so I look forward to seeing Postling in the wild. Any ETA on an alpha / beta launch?

Ben Metcalfe

This is an example of an announcement where I’m confused where the benefit was for the company?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m generally a firm believer in socializing one’s ideas and general openness.

But in this example, Postling has just given visibility to their competition that they are working in this space – and specifically their angle/direction. It now gives notice to other companies working in this space (there are others I know of) to simply move into ship and customer-acquire mode… which just makes Postling’s life even harder.

I’m not trying to rat on Dave, and the rest of the investors but it seems more like a good news story for them than providing any real merit to the company itself.

Om Malik

I think that is always a good sign that the guys are going to be adaptable and nimble. Thanks for your insight.

Chris Yeh

My basic investment thesis was that every local business is going to turn to social media, since those businesses run on elbow grease.

Postling seems well-positioned to ride this trend. Plus, the team is outstanding.

Steven Welch

David, the team here at DreamIt Ventures and the entire DreamIt 09′ class are proud of what you guys have accomplished.

tolleson

Why did these guys all leave Etsy? That’s the real story here Om.

old curmudgeon

They all left Etsy for the usual reasons. Etsy got a big chunk of VC money, brought in “adult management” to “improve” it and the new management (1) changed the culture and (2) drove out the folks who made it a success in the first place.

This happens all the time.

Om Malik

I have some details on why they left Etsy but problem is can’t confirm it with more than one source. Stay tuned, digging around.

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