Get in the KNOW
on LA Startups & TechX
Snap Alums Launch Trust, Raise $9 Million to Make Advertising More Accessible
While working as a marketing executive at Snapchat, James Borow saw small businesses had a harder time competing with larger companies when it came to advertising.
He and a group of Snap employees had the idea to start Trust, a company aiming to make the advertising process friendlier for smaller ecommerce companies and direct-to-consumer brands.
"We kept hearing from small businesses [saying] 'it's really hard to compete against the big guys, unless you have an inside track or unless you have a lot of capital," said Borow, the CEO and co-founder of Trust. "That's really where we had the idea of: what if we could flip it on its head and have all these businesses help one another so they can actually go ahead and compete?"
The Santa Monica-based startup raised $9 million in a round of seed funding, the company announced Wednesday. The round was led by Lerer Hippeau, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Upfront Ventures and Upper90.
Trust gives companies a card through Stripe that increases its limits on advertising spending by up to 20 times. The platform aggregates metrics for advertising costs to major advertising hotspots — including Snapchat, Facebook and Reddit — and shares them with customers.
This comes amid a rise of sales in the ecommerce industry over the COVID-19 pandemic. Ecommerce sales have increased by around 40% in the last year, while major advertising companies have reported large growths of advertising revenue, according to Borow.
Trust also announced it is bringing its platform out of beta testing and it has forged a partnership with the ecommerce platform Verishop, which will give all Verishop brands access to Trust's platform.
Borow added that Trust is planning to hire "aggressively" in the L.A. area.
"How we're trying to think of it is — how can we get all these smaller businesses to work together, so they can all actually grow and compete against the bigger guys who have a built in advantage?" he said.
- Ryff Uses Gaming Tech for Surgical Product Placement - dot.LA ›
- Flip Social Beauty App Raises $28 Million Series A - dot.LA ›
- Trust Digital Adtech Startup Raises $5 Million - dot.LA ›
- Without Neuromarketing Tech Firms’ Ads Get Lost in the Noise - dot.LA ›
Here Are the dot.LA/PitchBook 50 Hottest Los Angeles Startups for Q2
Despite a Black Swan event enveloping the world and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, plenty of Los Angeles startups continue to survive and even thrive during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, many of the winners are beneficiaries of the stay-at-home economy, offering consumers entertainment, education, workouts and shopping from the safety of their living rooms.
By now, you are probably familiar with Quibi, which tops our list of the dot.LA/ Pitchbook hottest L.A. startups despite a rocky debut with bad buzz and reports of anemic subscriber numbers. Hollywood veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP and eBay CEO Meg Whitman raised close to $2 billion in funding to launch a mobile version of Netflix, capital they will surely need now as they regroup and hang on for a day when people are again commuting to work.
Number two on our list is the much lower profile streaming company Generation Genius, which has benefited from students not being able to return to the classroom. The Sherman Oaks startup aims to make learning about science fun by making short and entertaining lessons and quizzes for kindergarteners through fifth graders.
For adults missing the gym, FitOn was number three. Backed by Crosscut Ventures, the two-year-old app provides free on-demand group fitness classes and allows users to socialize with friends during a workout and compete via a live leaderboard.
"FitOn has become the #1 free fitness app and grown rapidly with COVID as people can no longer make it to the gym," wrote Lindsay Cook, co-founder and CEO of FitOn in an e-mail. "Since the start of the pandemic, we've experienced massive increases all around. We have seen over 200% growth in workouts, signups, and friends are working out together."
Verishop Inc., an e-commerce site led by former Snap Inc. executive Imran Khan, is at number four. Already with a hefty pre-money valuation of $87.5 million, the company aims to make online shopping fun through "social commerce." Last month, it launched a social media-like feed of photos and videos on its iPhone app that recommends products based on which content users like.
The smallest of our top five is TopHap. It's still in beta and has raised $675,000 in angel funding. TopHap bills itself as the first AI-powered analytics platform to optimize realtor performance.
Here are the rest of the top 50. (Read about our methodology and how we determine the top startups below)
What gets a company on the list?
First, the company had to be founded between 2015-2020. Then PitchBook data scientists assigned a growth rate and size multiple equally. The growth rate represents the average weekly percentage change in a company's signals. It is calculated by averaging the weekly growth rate over a trailing eight-week period. For example, let's say a company's Web Growth Rate (SimilarWeb Unique Visitors and Majestic Referring Domains) was 10% each week for 4 weeks, and followed by an increase of 30% for the next 4 weeks. During that eight-week period, the combined weekly average growth rate was 20%.
The size multiple is the sum of a company's signals divided by the median company signal size. For example, if a company had 1,000 SimilarWeb Unique Visitors and the universal median for all companies in the platform was 500 SimilarWeb Unique Visitors, then the company's SimilarWeb Size Multiple would be 2x. A company's overall Size Multiple is calculated by averaging the Size Multiples from the following Signals: Social, Web, Employee, and Mobile Size.
- Los Angeles' Tech and Startup Scene is Growing. - dot.LA ›
- GOAT, Wag Labs Are Among Andreessen Horowitz's Top 100 Startups ›
- dot.LA/Pitchbook 50 Hottest Los Angeles Companies - dot.LA ›
- The Hottest LA Startups of 2020 - dot.LA ›
- Largest Raises in Los Angeles in 2021 - dot.LA ›
- Here Are LA’s Hottest Startups for 2023 - dot.LA ›
- Why LA Startups Were the Least Affected by a VC Downturn - dot.LA ›