Swoop, a company that works with food websites to automatically inject relevant deals, coupons, and ads, has raised $3 million of a $5 million Series B, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The filing was first spotted by Mass High Tech.
When the service launched in February, CEO Ron Elwell pitched it as a way for publishers to create a “search discovery” experience on their sites. If you’re looking up recipes, a natural next step is to figure out a place where you can buy the ingredients at a low price. With Swoop, publishers can provide that information without directing visitors to another site.
Elwell also told me that the technology could be used in other areas, like baby and beauty products.
A visit to the Swoop website suggests that the model hasn’t changed too much. The company is also pitching itself as “a Native Advertising service that seamlessly integrates relevant information about products and services,” and it features case studies on how food brands ran Swoop campaigns and saw much higher engagement rates than standard display advertising. At the same time, Swoop still says most of its content consists of automatically aggregated deals and coupons rather than advertising. (In the screenshot above, you can see regular Swoop links and a butter-related ad.)
In addition to Elwell, Swoop’s founding team includes CTO Simeon Simeonov. Both Elwell and Simeonov have VC experience — Elwell was a partner at Bessemer Ventures, while Simeonov was an executive in residence at General Catalyst Partners and a technology partner at Polaris Venture Partners.
I’ve emailed Swoop for confirmation, and will update if I hear back. The company previously raised $4.8 million from US Venture Partners, Valhalla Partners, and General Catalyst. The filing doesn’t say who’s investing in the new round.
Update: Here’s an email statement from Elwell confirming the fund and offering some details about the company’s progress (for ease of reading, I’ve broken it up into paragraphs):
We have raised $5M in a series B, the closing is taking place in 2 steps, so the 2nd $2M will close shortly. We are not announcing any specifics around the round. What I can tell you is that based on the results of our early campaigns with large brands we are accelerating the build out of our sales force and that is what the proceeds of the round are targeted for.
From a technology standpoint we have proven that we can identify current consumer intent, in real time, at scale. We now have over 35M unique monthly visitors across our network of 500+ food centric sites. Our ability to not just identify the consumer interest, but insert our messaging natively into the flow of the content they are consuming, has resulted in a consumer engagement rate of over 2.5% across all of the campaigns that we have run. In addition, we are seeing a post click engagement rate of over 200%, which has really excited the brands and agencies.
So now that we know that our native ads can drive this high level of engagement, and most importantly do it in a scalable, programmatic fashion, we are focused on building out the sales organization and scaling the revenue.