Nexage Founder Devkumar Gandhi Raises $600K For Pinterest Marketing Startup Dobango

Dobango, a startup that allows brands to promote themselves through fan competitions on Pinterest, just announced that it has raised $600,000 in seed funding.

The company is led by Devkumar Gandhi who previously founded mobile advertising startup Nexage. (Dobango’s seed investors include John Ostrem, the original backer of Nexage.) Gandhi served as Nexage’s CEO for more than four years, but eventually, he wanted to return from Boston to Silicon Valley, and to start something new.

Dobango wasn’t always focused on Pinterest, but instead on “the gamification of local commerce,” Gandhi says. So it built casino-style online games that also doubled as promotion for retailers. However, as Pinterest rose to prominence, Gandhi saw an opportunity to be “an innovator, not a fast follower.” So Dobango shifted its attention, and Gandhi says the company will be focused on its Pinterest marketing platform for the next 12 months or so.

The company launched the platform last week after spending several months in beta. Contests in Pinterest aren’t new, Gandhi admits, but until now, he says they haven’t been particularly compelling. Usually, a brand creates a pinboard with its own images, then asks fans to select their favorites — maybe a good way to get people to look at your content, but the interaction itself isn’t all that interesting. With a Dobango contest, on the other hand, users are actually submitting their own content, which then gets pushed to the brand’s board. The winners are the ones who submit the most engaging content.

Dobango_Whole Foods

For example, Outta the Park BBQ Sauce and Whole Foods ran a Dobango contest asking users to post their best photos from “feasts, gatherings and picnics.” During the campaign, the company’s Pinterest following grew by more than 150 percent, and its Facebook following increased 40 percent. (Dobango provides the tools to promote contests on other social networks, too.) The contest supposedly attracted the attention of 176 influential food bloggers, which Gandhi says is a sign that these campaigns aren’t just about reaching consumers, but could also be used for more business-to-business-type campaigns.

In the future, Gandhi wants to expand the service by introducing content management tools and analytics for brands.

Pinterest marketing might seem like a relatively narrow niche, until you remember the reports of the site’s explosive growth, both in its own traffic and the traffic it drives to other sites. We’ve seen some big exits on the Facebook marketing side, so if Pinterest continues to grow, Dobango could be ahead of the curve.

I haven’t heard of any other companies building marketing tools specifically for Pinterest, perhaps because there’s no public API. Pinterest will probably launch one eventually, but when it does, Gandhi is hoping that Dobango will have already secured a big lead over the competition.

Brands that want to work with Dobango can get more information here.