Mar 14, 2017

Singaporean startup raises $2.4m to bring its AI-powered digital marketing tools to mobile

You might have noticed the effects of digital marketing through email because your inbox feels the strain. It’s no wonder; businesses want customers. They love driving visitors to their websites, hoping to convince them to stick around, spend, and come back. But on the internet, it’s often a fine line between successfully engaging your customers and spamming the daylights out of them.

Singapore-based Ematic works hard to make sure its clients stay on the good side of that line. The startup’s online intelligence platform integrates into a business’ email service and produces insights to help target its communications better. A suite of tools helps it analyze data and design more effective marketing campaigns.

For its trouble, Ematic has closed a round of US$2.4 million, it announced today. The round was led by existing investor Wavemaker Partners and joined by MDI Ventures and Convergence Ventures. New investor Walden International joined this round.

The funding comes as Ematic is gearing up for its series A – it’s meant to keep the startup’s momentum and growth going as it works to close the new round. “We completed our Southeast Asia expansion ahead of schedule,” CEO Paul Tenney tells Tech in Asia. “We knew we wanted to start raising for our series A, but we also knew from an organizational standpoint that we would want to make some further investments into [the region].”

 

Plugging Into Apps

The funding will go toward staffing up across the startup’s regional offices and boosting its product and technology teams.

Besides continuing to refine its online platform, Ematic plans to expand its offering to mobile apps. “One of the key challenges for mobile app-centric companies is that there’s nothing to help them plug all their data into an email marketing environment,” Paul says. So the startup is working on a way to make its platform work with apps the way it works with websites.

App operators will then be able to feed their users’ behavioral data into their email marketing system and benefit from Ematic’s analysis and automation. Over time, the startup hopes to make its full suite of services available for mobile apps as well.

Ematic hopes to have a minimum viable product ready by the time it has closed its series A, after which it will ramp up development. Further down the line, it hopes to create a version of its product that’s available to anyone online. This will allow the startup to scale its services globally, potentially opening doors to new markets it can then land in.

Global ambition

Ematic launched in several countries in Southeast Asia during 2016, starting with Indonesia and Thailand and continuing with Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It’s also dipped its toes into emerging markets like Myanmar and Cambodia and opened an office in Hong Kong.

So far, the startup is happy with its traction across its different countries. Paul says the product has found its fit without much trouble, even if there are differences from market to market. The company took care to put teams on the ground to speak with clients in person. “We sit in a space that’s complex enough that people like to sit down face-to-face and talk through things,” Paul explains.

The differences between countries mean Ematic focuses on different aspects of the same service. Singapore, for example, has a small market size but a lot of consumers with spending power. So local companies want to reach as many of those consumers as possible. Indonesia, on the other hand, has a large pool of consumers, making it more important for companies to focus on sending the right message to the right audience.

“The shape of the metrics looks a bit different but the functionality of the product is the same and has the same effects in all of the markets,” Paul says.

Ematic has over 180 clients across Southeast Asia at the moment. Its revenue had tripled year-over-year by July 2016. Since October, it has doubled every six months. Paul didn’t share specific numbers.

The startup works with several well-known companies in the region, including Grab and Sephora.

Indonesia is Ematic’s biggest market, with Singapore following. Vietnam is its fastest growing market at the moment.

Before this pre-series A, Ematic raised US$2 million in a seed round split in two, in December 2015 and February 2016.

 

(Tech in Asia)