It has arguably by no means been tougher for manufacturers and retailers to accumulate and retain a buyer. Mass adoption of the web, cellular expertise and ecommerce over the previous 20 years has led to customers being inundated with promoting, promotional emails and product choices. There may be a lot noise it’s arduous for any model to chop by it.
Buyer acquisition prices have been on the rise for years, particularly for direct-to-consumer (D2C) manufacturers, as the price of internet marketing has elevated. This has pushed manufacturers to search for alternative routes to attach and interact with customers to construct sustainable relationships and experiences. Over the previous few years, SMS messaging has been acknowledged as essentially the most direct vector to a client, as a result of the telephone quantity is the last word distinctive identifier in in the present day’s digital world. The one-to-one communication provided by SMS and different messaging channels is extra invaluable, confirmed by larger open and engagement charges (customers are 4.5 instances extra more likely to reply to textual content messages than emails, in response to Postscript) and need by customers to work together with manufacturers by way of textual content (9 out of 10 customers wish to use messaging to speak with manufacturers, in response to Twilio).
These market dynamics make York IE very excited to announce our funding in Voyage SMS, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup that’s on a mission to create pleasant experiences for customers by SMS and different cellular messaging channels. The staff at Voyage believes conventional digital advertising and marketing and ecommerce shopping for is just too loud and filled with friction. They’ve constructed an SMS advertising and marketing and message commerce platform that’s targeted on lowering friction by offering extremely customized experiences and minimizing the quantity of steps it takes to go from discovery to transaction. The corporate states, “Rising, customer-obsessed manufacturers use Voyage to shortly scale their SMS subscriber base, drive income and domesticate deeper buyer loyalty.”
The core attribute of Voyage SMS that attracted the York IE staff most was the product-driven tradition. This has been one of many constructing blocks of Voyage, pushed by Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Corey Epstein from day one and expanded upon by Co-Founder and CEO Rev Reddy.
Epstein, Reddy and the staff deeply consider that enormous quantities of capital don’t mechanically resolve product issues or lead to innovation. They consider the power to ship and innovate on product may be very a lot intrinsically pushed, and that begins with the DNA of an organization’s leaders and their imaginative and prescient. York IE noticed this as a real differentiator when evaluating the aggressive market dynamics that Voyage is uncovered to.
In 2015, Reddy co-founded Appriza Pay, a FinTech B2B2C startup that was majority exited to a strategic acquirer in 2021. Reddy’s expertise in FinTech has a direct affect on the alternatives Voyage’s shoppers leverage utilizing the platform to maximise return on funding and construct rapport with their buyer base. Reddy has been a guide at McKinsey and Firm and in addition earned his undergraduate and MBA diploma from The Wharton College.
Epstein is the founding father of DSTLD, a D2C males’s denim firm that went public in 2021. His profession deal with digital advertising and marketing and hands-on expertise launching and scaling DSTLD drove his need to construct a advertising and marketing platform for classy, data-driven entrepreneurs like himself.
Epstein and Reddy met by a mutual advisor in 2019. Epstein was incubating Voyage on the time, and Reddy was bootstrapping a music tech enterprise pushed from his childhood ardour for music. Reddy instantly resonated with Epstein’s imaginative and prescient round how SMS was going to vary the best way manufacturers and prospects interacted over the following decade.
Reddy and Epstein are surrounded by gifted leaders on the Voyage government staff. Chief Product Officer Zach Holmquist was beforehand a senior director of product at WeWork, in addition to CTO and co-founder of Teem, a versatile office tech startup that WeWork acquired for $115 million. Holmquist has a ardour for constructing merchandise from idea to completion and for rising customer-facing options. Chief Working Officer Dave Hyperlink brings over a decade of B2B SaaS expertise with a number of exits. His full-funnel method to buyer expertise permits him to exactly join advertising and marketing, gross sales and buyer success to drive enterprise progress.
Voyage’s platform is constructed on the imaginative and prescient that messaging needs to be greater than a further advertising and marketing channel and used to drive commerce and transactions. The demand from customers for a extra human expertise on-line has by no means been extra related. With the latest acquisition of LiveRecover, Voyage brings a human-in-the-loop (HTL) to capitalize on the two-way nature of SMS and create conversational—and pleasant—experiences for customers. Moreover, the Voyage staff believes that it at present takes too many steps or clicks to go from discovery of a product to buy.
To scale back the friction on this course of, Voyage has constructed a particularly versatile SMS platform that empowers manufacturers to micro-market at scale and enhance conversions on the backside of the funnel with options corresponding to click-to-buy, which takes prospects straight to checkout with dynamic hyperlink messages. The platform’s fashionable, versatile, event-driven structure additionally permits extra superior advertising and marketing options such multi-message automations (drips) and the power to create customized occasions on the consumer interface in seconds, and it additionally opens the platform as much as a universe of integrations. Present integrations embrace Shopify, BigCommerce, Klayvio and Zendesk.
All of those options result in a extra customizable and customized expertise for the patron and a stronger buyer relationship for manufacturers. That is demonstrated by the truth that Voyage prospects have skilled a median of 30X return on advert spend (ROAS).
Based mostly on macro traits it ought to come as no shock that the SMS advertising and marketing and commerce market is massive. Analysis and Markets projected that the worldwide marketplace for application-to-person SMS would attain $74.7 billion by 2026. Moreover, the Voyage staff estimates that solely 35% to 40% of manufacturers are utilizing SMS to have interaction with prospects in the present day. The York IE staff believes that this exhibits vital greenfield alternative, in addition to a big alternative to focus on manufacturers utilizing inferior SMS advertising and marketing and commerce platforms.
As with nearly any massive market alternative, there may be noteworthy competitors in SMS advertising and marketing and commerce, with essentially the most notable being from Attentive, a New York-based unicorn that has raised over $850 million in capital. Attentive’s success in fundraising and progress validate the concept that customers are in search of a extra direct and customized channel to have interaction with manufacturers, however the York IE staff believes that Voyage’s product-first tradition and imaginative and prescient of message commerce has led to distinct benefits that can allow the corporate to seize significant market share. The flexibleness of the platform is cherished by prospects and makes it a lot simpler to onboard and micro-market at scale. The deal with options for commerce over simply advertising and marketing additionally results in larger ROAS, which is likely one of the main metrics Voyage’s buyer base is anxious with.
Different opponents within the area embrace Emotive and Postscript. These corporations are primarily focusing on small and medium-size companies, and Voyage occasionally sees them in offers. Within the case of Postscript, its platform is tied to Shopify and obtainable by its app retailer. Voyage has taken a broader ecosystem method and isn’t solely tied to anybody ecommerce platform.
Voyage is initially focusing on D2C manufacturers with $3 million to $100 million in income. This focus has allowed the corporate to accrue over 100 midmarket and small enterprise manufacturers as prospects and a pair of.5 million registered telephone numbers, with one-third of them coming from different platforms corresponding to Attentive. Clients embrace Contemporary Clear Tees, Lokai, Birthdate Co., Moon Pod and AMASS.
York IE is extraordinarily excited to associate with Voyage SMS and help the corporate in its mission to carry extra customized and frictionless ecommerce experiences to customers. The staff’s obsession with their prospects and product have put them on the forefront of innovation of their area and positions them to capitalize on massive macro tailwinds.