Building platforms at the local level can be incredibly messy. No one knows this as well as Facebook, Foursquare, Google, and Yelp. Except for maybe the multi-location national brands like convenience stores and big box retailers that must manage the presence of hundreds to thousands of individual locations on each of the relevant social and digital platforms.
There are plenty of solutions that help brands and corporations manage their social presence. Buddy Media (SalesForce), Wildfire (Google), Sprinklr, and a half dozen other giants come to mind. But none of them help solve this local problem. None of them, that is, except stealthy Los Angeles-based startup MomentFeed. The company launched out of beta in January 2012 and has since attracted national brands like 7-Eleven, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, JCPenney, and the Walt Disney Resorts and retail stores.
MomentFeed quietly closed a $1.8 million “Seed extension” financing at the end of January, adding to the $1.2 million it raised in July 2012. Investors in the two rounds include Gold Hill Capital, DFJ Frontier, DFJ-JAIC Venture Partners, Double M Capital, Daher Capital, Factual founder Gil Elbaz, Clark Landry, Walter Kortschak, and former Facebooker and current MomentFeed head of sales Rob Lissner.
The decision to raise a seed round wasn’t one of limited interest. Rather, the company is growing so fast, according to founder and CEO Rob Reed, that the insiders decided to raise as little as possible and keep the action to themselves. Imagine managing Facebook Pages, Foursquare locations, Google+ location pages, Twitter profiles, Instagram accounts, and Yelp accounts for 8,000 nationwide 7-Eleven locations, not to mention the countless duplicates and unauthorized pages that continually crop up and you can quickly gather why this is such a hot company.
“What we do at the local level is so hard. We are solving real problems for brands and for the social platforms, and opening up real opportunities at the local level,” Reed says. “As a result, when compared to brand and corporate level solutions, we are getting significantly more revenue per customer.”
MomentFeed is focused on large enterprise accounts and typically signs annual licenses of six figures or more. Companies pay a per location fee that declines with volume, and also have the option of adding mobile “seats” for location managers at an additional cost. Given the magnitude of the problem and the solution the company has created, Reed reports encountering little to no resistance from his clients in terms of price sensitivity.
The location-based analytics and campaign management platform is divided into three sequential products. New corporate users of MomentFeed begin with a product called PinSync which focuses on cleaning up incorrect and duplicated location data.
PinSync ensures that each brand location is represented by the proper longitude and latitude data – something that’s far more important than its street address and yet is more often than not incorrect. Once the correct information is obtained, it’s disseminated to all of the above-mentioned various social and digital platforms.
The initial stages of this process are very high touch, with members of MomentFeed’s 15 person team manually verifying each location via aerial maps, google street view, and Foursquare checkin heat map data. Along the way, all duplicate and unauthorized locations are merged with the brand’s authorized instances. The company believes that it is the only company in the industry that offers this extremely valuable service.
PinSync was actually not Reed’s the initial concept or goal when founding MomentFeed. Rather, it was born out of necessity when he attempted to implement his location-based publishing, marketing, and CRM solution, but found it to be inordinately difficult due to messy data. With this data cleaned now up for each of its clients, the platform then allows brands to publish to and manage activity on all of the relevant social platforms at both the national and local level.
For example, users that hashtag starbucks in close proximity to a local store may have that content liked, or shared by the individual store’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. Companies can similarly manage marketing and promotion initiatives on a location-specific basis more efficiently than in many other brand-focused social management platforms.
The third and final leg of the MomentFeed stool is its analytics platform which takes the torrent of inbound customer data created across the social landscape and turns it into competitive intelligence. For example, a single McDonalds location could compare its brand engagement and sentiment at the local level to that of a single Burger King directly across the street. The same insights can be generate on a regional and national level as well.
Reed says that initial adoption of the platform was actually slower than he had expected, but that brands are increasingly recognizing the value of the social presence of each individual local. With this shift, has come rapid adoption of MomentFeed. One of the most recent catalysts of this shift was the launch of Facebook Graph Search, according to Reed.
The land grab for local brand activity is just beginning. MomentFeed appears to have a head start, but should expect intense competition from all sides. It’s extremely likely that Buddy Media, et al will look to offer more granular local solutions. At the same time, the platforms themselves are incentivized to build or acquire technology to help brands and advertisers use their platforms more efficiently, and to ensure that consumers encounter the cleanest databases possible. Finally, there are surely a few dozen wantrepreneurs, in a few dozen garages, cooking up what they hope will be the MomentFeed killer.
Reed is well aware of this and is doing everything possible to increase MomentFeed’s brand footprint and to continue improving the product ahead of inevitable competition. Two of the most pressing items on his roadmap are the integrations of both Yelp and Twitter’s Vine social video platform.
There are no shortage of trends to support MomentFeed’s thesis: Growing smartphone and mobile broadband penetration; broadening use of social media; and increasing consumer comfort with location-based services, are but a few.
The hard part will be for a small startup based in Los Angeles to turn $3 million in financing and a well timed idea into the next big enterprise platform. Early results indicate that Reed and his team may be up to the task. If so, it would be a big win for the LA startup ecosystem and a pretty quick answer from Santa to my year-end request for more advertising- and media-focused enterprise companies.