Despite not being Brazilian and having their first exposure to the country only a few years ago, the two co-founders of Escale have managed to raise $22.6 million for their company, which provides customer acquisition services to companies in telecommunications and healthcare across Brazil.
Their secret? A knowledge of search engine optimization technologies honed through side businesses the two ran back in the United States.
The state of online marketing and digital sales was so woefully bad in Brazil that co-founders Matthew Kligerman and Ken Diamond had a green field in front of them on which to build Brazil’s first true online customer acquisition service, according to Diamond.
“We fell in love with Brazil for its warm culture and natural beauty, but as consumers, we had terrible experiences acquiring the most fundamental products and services for our new lives: internet, cell phone plans, health insurance and basic banking needs,” Kligerman said in a statement.
The company’s largest customer, according to Diamond, is NET, the Brazilian cable and telecom operator. NET was the first company to sign on for Escale’s customer acquisition services, but the company’s roster of clients now includes some of Brazil’s largest companies, including Bradesco, Sul America, Claro, GNDI and Amil.
It’s that marquee client list that attracted QED Investors and Invus Opportunities to co-lead the $22.6 million round that Escale just closed. The company’s previous investors, Kaszek Ventures, Rocket Internet’s GFC and Redpoint e.Ventures, also participated in the funding.
Latin America is in the throes of a startup renaissance at the moment, with Brazilian companies like Nubank and iFood and the Colombian company Rappi reaching billion-dollar valuations. Meanwhile investors are committing more capital to the region. SoftBank, for instance, is committing $5 billion to a new Latin American-focused fund.
With the new funding, Escale intends to move deeper into the development of customer acquisition platforms across verticals like consumer finance, insurance and education with comparison shopping sites and informational services (à la Credit Karma in the U.S.).
“With millions of web and cloud voice interactions every month, Escale can transform each of those interactions into data points, and continually improve its proprietary acquisition platform, ‘EscaleOS,’ to create highly-intelligent, customized marketing and sales funnels, helping consumers at the right moment connect with the products and services they need,” says Nicolas Berman, a partner at Kaszek Ventures. “The more consumer interactions they have, the faster Escale’s data flywheel spins.”