Mobile Publishing Platform Pressly Raises $1.5 Million, Launches To Public At Last

Pressly, the mobile publishing platform and former TechCrunch Disrupt finalist which makes websites smartphone and tablet-friendly, is today launching to the public, accompanied by $1.5 million in outside funding from iNovia Capital and OMERS Ventures. The platform uses a combination of HTML5 web technologies and customizable templates to allow publishers and other content producers the ability to quickly create mobile-ready websites.

The company has operated behind closed doors since 2011, so getting to the point of a public debut is a big deal for this particular startup.

In the past, Pressly’s engine has powered Canada’s largest newspaper The Toronto Star, as well as a publication called Electionism, which was an app built for an internal product innovation team inside The Economist Group, called Media Lab. But according to marketing director Tobin Dalrymple, the startup has been expanding its focus during its beta period to encompass more use cases than just those needed by traditional publishers. Pressly has been specifically building in features which would allow it to enhance lead generation for content marketers, he says.

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One big name that used Pressly during the beta was Ziff Davis, which built a content marketing campaign they sold to IBM who then used it to curate a content experience around big data, Dalrymple tells us. (You can see this in action here, if you click on the link from a tablet: Ziff Davis, also the publisher of PC Magazine, is using Pressly for their smartphone web app, he adds. There’s another big-name deal in the works as well, but the company isn’t allowed to publicly announce who that is just yet.

“The big opportunity for marketers is the same as the opportunity for publishers,” Dalrymple says of Pressly’s shift in focus. “We studied the impact we had on our clients, and they saw 22 pageviews per visit, and a bounce rate down to 4 percent, which is well over ten times the industry benchmarks,” he tells us.

toronto star androidThe company’s positioning as platform for both B2B marketers as well as publishers, is also a differentiating factor between it and competitors like OnSwipe, which announced reaching 44 million uniques across its platform during 2012.

“I do think our focus on marketers is a big strategic difference. Players like OnSwipe are looking at bloggers and the long tail,” Dalrymple says. “We add value higher up.”

But Dalrymple adds that’s far from the only differentiating factor between the two services, explaining that Pressly’s business is a SaaS model – it doesn’t take a cut of publishers’ ad revenues. “We are not building an ad network,” he explains. “This is a SaaS product, where we are providing a platform where we don’t interfere with [publishers’] own revenue models.”

The company also recently hired a new COO, Ian Richmond, who previously led divisions at Macromedia, Adobe, IBM and most recently Microsoft, and has experience working in the enterprise software space.

The additional funding will be used to help Pressly grow its now 16-person Toronto-based team and its marketing efforts, as well as roll out more features and functions to the product itself, including integrations with marketing tools like Mailchimp, plus landing pages support, and more.

With the public debut, Pressly’s platform will be available for the first time to those who weren’t one of its 500 beta testers. The service offers a 30-day trial then changes businesses fees that start at $199 and go up to $499, depending on their needs.