Whatser Raises $475,000 To Increase Merchant Footfall Using Social Media

Back in 2010, Whatser launched as a way for friends to share their favourite locations. But by October the following year, after running out of runway, the startup voluntarily declared itself bankrupt.

Today, however, sees the rebooted company rise from the deadpool with the launch of its social media management dashboard designed to help local merchants increase footfall.

Meanwhile, Amsterdam-based Whatser is announcing that it’s raised a $475,000 seed round from an unnamed group of angels to further develop the service.

In a postmortem of what went wrong with the original Whatser, CEO and co-founder Michiel Verberg wrote on The Next Web, “choose your investors with care”, noting that “the best investors can offer you the money promised, valuable introductions, and additional help as an experienced advisor where needed”. Let’s presume he’s heeded his own advice this time around.

Whatser aims to help merchants, specifically bricks ‘n’ mortar stores, get a handle on social media to help them compete with larger outfits or those that operate purely online, and drive more customers in-store. It does this through a simple social media management dashboard that ties into the merchant’s Twitter and Facebook presence, to enable them to do things like schedule updates, understand their social media reach, and fine-tune their social media strategy based on how different social channels are performing.

In addition, and key to its underdog pitch, is that the web app does a certain amount of hand-holding by making content suggestions in terms of what a merchant should post to Twitter or Facebook. In this way, it’s not too dissimilar in sentiment to something like Maverick, which recently launched with the aim to be the ‘WordPress of digital marketing‘, providing a host of off-the-shelf marketing campaigns.

That said, Whatser is a much, much simpler offering, at least in its current state, and resembles something a little more like Buffer, or any of the plethora of social media management dashboards already on the market.

One aspect of the app that does appear to make it stand out a little is that is offers “Click and Collect” functionality whereby consumers can reserve products offered by the merchant in-store via Facebook and Twitter. Again, the aim is to tap into social media online to increase footfall offline.

“You want to know beforehand what’s happening at your favorite store before you go there. Did something new arrive, yes or no? With Whatser, customers know”, Verberg tells TechCrunch.

In a statement, Melinda Jacobs, co-founder and COO at Whatser, adds: “Our goal is to create a platform in which local merchants with any background in online usage – extensive or beginner – can take advantage of the services we have to offer. We are proud to present local merchants with a product that helps them effectively increase awareness of their shop and what they offer, allowing them to ultimately attract more customers to their – physical – store.”