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Sailthru the New York tech startup delivering true personalized marketing gears up for a year of growth

You don’t need to be a senior product manager to figure out that when a tech startup brings its total investment to just south of $50 million in the space of five years, it’s probably got one honey of product. And that’s exactly what New York communications technology startup Sailthru has just done with a $20 million Series C round; intrigued product managers might want to find out a little more about it.

“Smart data” not “big data 

Founded in 2008 by its now CEO Neil Capel, Sailthru raised $19 million in Series B earlier this year, after seeing its revenues soar by 270 percent over the previous 12 months. It began life as an email marketing company, providing tools to marketers and publishers which let them deliver personalized marketing messages to their email newsletter or daily deals subscribers. Since then, it’s taken the same approach – personalized communications tailored to customers’ specific interests – to the Web.

Capel describes Sailthru as a “customer engagement” enterprise capable of “personalizing every single touch point.” That still includes email, of course, but it also reaches to mobile apps, company websites and offline. And Capel is insistent that his firm’s technology doesn’t simply leverage “big data” like its competitors. That’s still a blunt instrument for marketing purposes, Capel believes, because big data firms simply divide users into broad demographic segments. Sailthru’s approach is the nuanced use of “smart data” to deliver true personalization.

He describes the capabilities like this:

“We’re essentially real-time, we’re able to personalize every single event. As opposed to everyone else who says they’re real-time, and the consumer sits in this bucket.”

Growth plans 

Most companies are still playing catch-up here, Capel adds: if a customer signs up for a newsletter, he or she will get the same headlines as everyone else on the subscriber list. But he thinks publishers today ought to be tailoring those headlines to what they know about individual customer preferences, which is exactly what Sailthru can deliver.

Most product managers would agree that this is pretty innovative, cutting edge stuff. And given that the company’s revenue for 2013 is double that for 2012, so do its investors.

Capel says that the new investment (which was led by Scale venture Partners) will allow Sailthru to concentrate on growth, including internationally, in 2014.

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