Tel Aviv-based Yotpo announced today that it has raised $800K in seed funding. The funding was led by 2B Angels and PLUS Ventures, two early stage Israeli investment firms focused on communications and new media.
According to Yotpo Co-founder Tomer Tagrin, the startup will use the funding to expand its user base, ramp up hiring, and position itself for launch later this year.
So what is Yotpo? It turns out this is a surprisingly open-ended question, as the startup only opened its doors to public beta testing a few days ago. But, in the big picture, the company describes itself as a social business-to-business tool that “makes your customers happy” by facilitating a better user experience — specifically for the owners of blogs and eCommerce sites.
Though “making your customers happy” may sound appealing, I think that’s what most businesses might say they’re trying to accomplish. So what does that mean for Yotpo, in application? To begin with, as mentioned, Yotpo will be targeting bloggers and eCommerce sites, with plans to expand beyond these venues down the road.
So, for example, let’s say you own your own blog. You may then be familiar with the challenge of attracting new readers to your site, and once you’ve got them reading your content, with the challenge of how to keep them coming back. Not to mention, the tricky task of getting your readers involved and engaged by commenting, re-tweeting, sharing, and so on.
In turn, bloggers often struggle with creating content that is truly valuable to their user base, and keeping that content applicable as new users arrive and the tastes of existing users change. Of course, this isn’t a problem we at TechCrunch are familiar with, but it’s been known to happen.
So, say you’ve just written a post about a new Apple gadget, Yotpo is creating a tool that will read the content of your post and serve your readers with real opinions about the new gadget from elsewhere on the Web. As a blogger, you would embed Yotpo’s tool on your site, enabling it to read your post and (in realtime) scour the Internets to search for related content. Using its algorithm (“special sauce”), it will aggregate opinions on identical subjects, rank them based on how valuable they will be to your users, and then serve them to your faithful.
The idea being that your reader, now informed about what others are saying about this very gadget, will be more likely to engage with your content, share a comment, re-tweet, and continue to visit your site. As is often the case, there may be loads and loads of content about the particular subject you’re writing about, and your reader may not have been able to wade through each and every article. Thus, serving him or her with targeted excerpts (the “bottom line”, as Tagrin calls it) from the most relevant articles and blogs on equivalent topics could very well make them feel more informed, fitter, happier, and stronger. Or at least one of those.
The application of this idea to eCommerce is easy to see — if marketplaces can serve their shoppers with opinions, reviews, and analysis from others who have bought similar products, for example, then you’ll have more intelligent (and presumably happy) buyers. Obviously, sites like Amazon and Yelp (and hundreds of others) already offer thorough reviews by customers who have enjoyed (or not enjoyed) similar products, or restaurants — and offer recommendations for similar products. That idea is not new.
But applying the instant, realtime review and analysis option to bloggers and smaller eCommerce sites is appealing. The ability to use one widget or plugin, (or in whatever capacity Yotpo’s tool is realized), to aggregate and serve users with relevant opinions across the Web is a valuable goal. Hey AdSense makes tons of loot based on not-so-dissimilar model.
Of course, creating an algorithm that smartly serves readers with real analysis and opinion and not just content based on some keyword that happened to match up with the aggregating algorithm is easier said than done. And, of course, how the tool’s interface is designed, whether it shows 1 opinion or 30, a single line of text, or entire paragraphs, remains to be seen. That’s the real kicker. Good design, easy-to-use, and works everywhere. Now that could have lasting effects.
The startup is still in beta, so there is time to work these things out and do necessary testing and due diligence. At the very least, it will be interesting to see how the startup puts its idea into practice.