Startups

Centzy Raises $1.6M Seed Round From Cowboy Ventures, Founder Collective, Lightbank & Others To Bring Offline Biz Data To Web & Mobile

Comment

Centzy, a local search startup which is putting prices, store hours, ratings and specials for convenience-oriented businesses online, is today announcing $1.6 million in seed funding from Cowboy Ventures, Founder Collective, Lightbank, ff Venture Capital, and strategic angels found on AngelList.

The company had previously raised $825,000 in funding from previous investors ff Venture, Lightbank and others, and it in the past, that was also characterized as a “seed” round. However, Centzy co-founder and CEO Jay Shek clarifies that the company is now referring to that earlier raise as an “incubation round,” in order to leave the door open for a Series A in the future.

First launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in May 2012, Centzy is focused on bringing detailed business data online – especially information that doesn’t exist anywhere else. As Shek explained earlier this year, 90 percent of Centzy’s data isn’t found anywhere else online because the business has never put that info online to begin with.

The startup is targeting smaller, local merchants, primarily in the “health and beauty” vertical at present. This vertical includes places like nail salons, spas, hair salons, tanning salons, waxing, etc.

But Shek says part of the funding will help Centzy expand into new areas, such as personal care (shoe repair, dry cleaners, tailors, etc.), family care (daycares, retirement homes), gyms, home and car services. However, the company is still limiting its interest in businesses which could be classified as falling under the broader “errands” category – it’s not going after more complex services like car repairs or home repairs, for instance, because those problems require that a professional look at a problem directly, then provide an estimate.

“We found that a lot of people didn’t understand what ‘local services’ are,” explains Shek. “So we said, we help you with things that are like ‘errands.’ Errands are high-frequency of use services that exclude restaurants and bars, and exclude complex and expensive services,” he says. “We found that those services are where people are the most price and convenience-focused, so the information we provide is useful.”

Centzy also apparently has a female appeal as well. Its customer currently skews 18 to 44, female, with an above average income, and minority (Asian, Hispanic or black). Shek says the female demographic appealed to Cowboy Ventures, the fund started by KPCB’s Aileen Lee. However, Lee says the fund goes broader than that – it’s not just focused on commerce and women. Cowboy Ventures, though, invested the largest amount in this new round, all of which was done via convertible note.

Just this February, Centzy announced it had expanded to the top 10 U.S. metro areas, and had grown its database of business listings to over 300,000. Today, it has reached 400,000 local businesses, and consumer traffic is growing 25 percent per month. 60 percent of Centzy’s traffic is on mobile, even though the company has yet to launched its mobile apps. Though, thanks to the new funding, those apps are on their way this year.

At present, Centzy is working to expand its service nationwide – a rollout it expects to also complete this year. And it’s working to develop merchant-facing tools, too, which will allow businesses to edit their own information, as well as post advertisements.

“We think of ourselves as the anti-Groupon,” says Shek. “At the core, every local startup is a marketplace between consumers and merchants. We started on the consumer side…and all the consumers who come to us are high-intent,” he explains. “Unlike a daily deal site where they essentially push an offer out to a million people and maybe .1 percent of them will buy, we have a pull model. We’re pulling in people right at the point when they’re ready to buy.”

Because of this angle, the consumers can convert to paying customers without the need for the merchant to offer a very large discount. It could even be just a matter of merchants posting their everyday specials online – like the “new customers take 10 percent off,” or the “2 for 1 on Tuesday” type of deals. 15 percent of businesses are already running specials like this today, Shek notes.

The merchant tools will also arrive to all merchants later this year, and the ad and lead gen services will be made available to paying customers. (Pricing has not yet been set.) Beta tests in the NY area are underway now.

More TechCrunch

Ahead of the AI safety summit kicking off in Seoul, South Korea later this week, its co-host the United Kingdom is expanding its own efforts in the field. The AI…

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

13 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities