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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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