Founded in 2010 as an online loyalty card service, Punchh has since grown into a marketing platform serving more than 115 restaurant chains, including Pizza Hut and Quiznos. Now it’s raised a $20 million Series B to expand into more retail verticals and increase the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in its cloud software. The funding was led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation from returning investor Cervin Ventures.
Along with its angel and Series A financing, this brings Punchh’s total funding so far to about $31 million. The startup says its goal is to give brick-and-mortar stores the same level of data analytics as e-commerce giants like Amazon.
Punchh’s platform enables restaurants to digitize their customer loyalty programs and complements that with tools like Punchh Acquire, which is designed to help businesses turn casual customers into regulars by promoting offers through multiple channels, including email, SMS, social media, Apple Pay and eClub.
The company currently has 145 employees and is based in San Mateo, California, with offices in Austin, Texas and Delhi. This is Punchh’s first funding announcement in three years and the startup’s largest round of financing by far (it raised $9.5 million Series A in 2015).
Co-founder and chief executive officer Shyam Rao says the time was right for Punchh to raise again because it already serves many of the biggest restaurant chains, with 34,000 locations between them, and wanted to tap into demand from retailers in other verticals.
Punchh is now focusing on convenience stores, gas stations and health and beauty brands (clients already include Fantastic Sams hair salons and TruFusion, a chain of fitness studios). The company competes with other digital loyalty and marketing platforms like Stamp Me, LoyalZoo and Stocard. Rao says Punchh’s ability to create campaigns that target a very specific audience sets it apart from rivals. Punchh’s algorithms pulls together data from several sources, including event calendars, weather, local demographics and the purchasing history of individual customers, for what it describes as “micro-moment marketing.”
For example, if cold weather is expected over a holiday weekend, it might send offers for a discounted hot soup and tea set to mothers between the ages of 30 to 55. Punchh claims it increases spending at its customers’ restaurants by 10% to 20%.
“Imagine trying to manage that process of using mountains of data to build customer relationships and tailor every experience, at scale across hundreds of locations. That’s what Punchh does,” says Rao.
In a statement, Jai Das, Sapphire Ventures managing director said “Punchh is already a global leader in digital marketing solutions for restaurants, which alone would be a fantastic reason to invest in the company, but the scope of their technology goes far beyond just restaurants and encompasses all brick-and-mortar stores with a POS.”