TrendKite, a startup promising to help brands and agencies measure the effectiveness of their PR efforts, has raised $3.2 million in Series A funding. It’s also announcing that it has a new CEO — Erik Huddleston, former CTO and executive vice president of product at social monitoring company Dachis Group.
Huddleston told me that when Dachis Group was acquired by Sprinklr in February, he was “fully committed” to staying on-board.
However, he was already an adviser with TrendKite, and shortly after the acquisition was announced, the startup’s founders took him to dinner and suggested that he join as CEO. It was, in his words, “a bit of an ambush.” And apparently it worked.
Those founders will remain involved in the company — former CEO Matt Allison is now chief product officer, while his co-founders AJ Bruno and Patrick Brannen continue to serve as president and CTO, respectively.
Huddleston said that even though companies like Sprinklr represent a broader shift in spending from IT to marketing, particularly toward data-focused marketing tools, most of those tools have been focused on advertising, leaving earned media (i.e. press coverage and consumer mentions that companies don’t pay for), “completely ignored.”
TrendKite says it can provide companies with the PR data they need, with features including custom dashboards (tracking things like the most popular articles about your company, mentions by top influencers, and general sentiment and share of voice compared with the competition), email news alerts, and shareable PDF reports.
Huddleston also praised the founders’ vision, as well as their experience in the industry and in sales: “The only thing they were really missing was the product component.” Not that he was criticizing the product itself (he recalled talking to customers who “raved” about it), just suggesting that the company needed someone with a strong product background at the top.
The company’s new funding was led by Mercury Fund and Silverton Partners. It follows last fall’s $1.2 million and will go towards expanding the company’s data infrastructure and its sales team.