Seattle and London-based nFluence Media emerged from two years of stealth mode to announce it has raised $3 million for a deal-targeting technology whose first application will be a daily deal aggregating iPhone app, due out later this month. However, the company is not necessarily just another player in the overly crowded “daily deals” space. Instead, the technology being funded here is an anonymous self-profiling system that can expand into other verticals, including future uses with mobile carriers, cable/satellite TV operators and shopping mall owners.
The new round was led by Voyager Capital (Bill McAleer) with contributions from 17 angels in the Alliance of Angels. Along with the news, comes the announcement that Tom Huseby will be chairman of the board at nFluence. Huseby and nFluence co-founder Brian Roundtree (CTO) know each other from previous collaborations at SnapIn, where Roundtree was CTO. That company was later acquired by Nuance Media for $235M back in 2008. nFluence’s other co-founder and CEO is Henry Lawson, also the Chairman of MediaEquals and Cogniti.
The forthcoming iPhone app called dealBoard, due out in February, will be unique in the deal aggregating space because it will allow users to build a consumer profile without submitting any personal information. That means no names, no email addresses, no zip codes and no phone numbers. To build up consumers’ preferences, the app’s users will be walked through the company’s proprietary “brand sorter” technology, which from the sounds of it, makes detailing your preferences about shopping behaviors and interests into something more akin to a game than a traditional quiz.
The idea that you could receive daily deals without opting in to deal spam will appeal to the more privacy-minded and those who simply want a better way to access deals. Imagine: no more unwanted emails about “spa packages” and “25% off kiteboarding lessons” which you delete on arrival. Hooray! But to be clear, information about you is being collected, including that which you voluntarily share, location info, your phone’s OS, browser and unique ID, your likes and dislikes, demographic info, etc. – it’s just not being linked to your personal information and identity.
“People don’t like most email and marketing and rightfully so,” says CEO Henry Lawson, “they are inundated with unwanted, mistargeted or stalker-like ads, offers and messages. With our technology, we’re able to return control of a consumer’s profile to the person it belongs to, the consumer, not some technology black box.”
nFluence isn’t the only company to think to aggregate and target deals – that’s both Yipit’s and Google Offers’ game plan, too. The difference is that those competitors aren’t targeting the offers anonymously as nFluence plans to.
The dealBoard mobile application is said to pull in over 35,000 offers, including those from retailers and deal providers like Groupon, LivingSocial and Gilt Groupe. For obvious reasons, no emails will be sent – the offers appear within the app only, according to user preferences. More details as to the specifics of how this technology will work will be available alongside the new app’s launch.
In the future, nFluence Media plans to expand the technology to other companies that want to target consumers, but who don’t need to collect personally identifiable information to do so.