With predictable and boring ads being boring and ineffective, the world is slowly starting to see the genius of one company that is taking on one of the biggest new markets by the horns. NewsCred is making marketing more efficient, easier, and transparent for everyone by providing the platform tools to take storytelling for brands to the next level. The company has been on an incredible trajectory as more brand dollars pour into content marketing and the Midtown South-based startup recently took in a fresh $42M in investment. The company’s total funding now totals slightly under $90M since its founding in 2008.
Today, we sit down with CEO Shafqat Islam to discuss the latest ground and what is next for NewsCred.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $42M led by investors FTV Capital with participation from existing investors including FirstMark Capital, InterWest Partners, and Mayfield Fund.
Why opt for a growth equity round this time around instead of a traditional venture round?
We were agnostic between traditional venture and growth equity, but our reasoning was based on the quality of the firm and more importantly, the caliber of the partner. We wanted to work with Liron Gitig and FTV.
Tell us about the latest iterations of your products and service.
NewsCred is on a mission to make marketing better for everyone and we are doing this through our technology with three key elements:
- Marketing Operations: With a single platform, NewsCred transforms the way brands scale their marketing efforts with content planning, collaboration, workflows, and publishing.
- Content: NewsCred is the world’s largest content marketplace, enabling brands to scale their marketing across channels, teams and markets with original and licensed content.
- Insights: NewsCred is the first company to close the loop on marketing insights, providing deep content and audience analytics to power the entire customer experience. NewsCred’s platform allows marketers and brands to see precisely who is interacting with their content and their competitors’ – no guess work or personas required.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
According to IDC’s 2014 report, the marketing software market is expected to grow to $32.3 billion in 2018. It will be one of the fastest-growing areas in high-tech, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4%.
What’s your business model?
NewsCred has three primary product offerings: software, content, and services. For our software, we use a typical SaaS pricing model in that we charge a monthly fee for access to the software and content. For services, we charge based on the engagement. We offer brands full or half-day sessions, workshops, and regular check-ins. NewsCred has a dedicated sales team as well as a number of partners.
What was the funding process like?
Raising money is not a right but a privilege. With this round, we are both skilled yet fortunate. It is a testament to the incredible work and tenacity of the 200 people who call NewsCred home. This funding is just a ticket to participate in the race. It is far from over — we are at the starting line, having done an immense amount of training and hard work to get here.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The biggest challenge is that our market is moving really fast and with that comes a lot of noise from other companies trying to get a piece of the pie. The marketing tech space is also starting to converge, with many smaller companies not being able to make it and others, like NewsCred, carving out more of a space and consolidating components into a single ecosystem. Doing so allows us to break away from the pack, but cutting through the noise was an initial challenge.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Companies of all sizes, all around the world are searching for ways to acquire and engage customers, and grow profits; marketing platforms like NewsCred are breaking the mold and turning cost centers into revenue drivers. Our investors know the marketing landscape is converging and content is at the epicenter of it all – consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase decision. With our technology and the world’s largest content marketplace, we’ve already made incredible advancements towards redefining how the modern marketer can successfully navigate this complex and evolving space. We offer technology that marketers are thirsty for and we’re run by a team of trailblazers that are truly excited about the industry and what we’re creating.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We’re planning to focus on expanding global operations, hiring and sales, and an increased investment in R&D. It’s a lot to push ahead with in the next six months, but we’re determined.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Stay scrappy, stay within your means, and stay hungry.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re rewriting the marketing playbook, because we believe content is the future of marketing. To do that, we’re focusing our efforts on global expansion and R&D to help marketers understand the full customer journey and deliver the right content for the exact right person, time, and place.
Where is your favorite place to enjoy the fall weather in the area?
Madison Square Park, it’s right by our offices.