April 24th, 2012

Chirpify lands $1.3 million in funding … and that’s not even the most interesting part of the story


Chirpify lands $1.3 million in funding … and that’s not even the most interesting part of the story
Granted, I'm more than a little slow. But at least this time I have a good reason. You've probably already seen the news that Portland-based startup Chirpify landed $1.3 million in funding. It's getting great coverage, all over. But I thought I might take a few minutes to dissect it. Because it's interesting on any number of levels.

Voyager Capital led the investment

I'm a big fan of Voyager Capital. Diane Fraiman is one of the most visible investors in the Portland startup scene, meeting with and advising startups of all shapes and sizes. But in watching their activity around Portland, Voyager has generally invested in later stage startups, like Kryptiq and Act-On. And invested bigger chunks of capital. This investment in Chirpify---while leading the round---marks an interesting departure from that path. Where they've gotten in earlier and for a smaller amount. So why the change? "Chirpify presents an opportunity for huge business disruption in an extremely large market---which is a very attractive set of qualities in an investment by Voyager Capital. We liked the team, the market and the ability to monetize social media," Diane told me. "While a smaller investment, it is totally stage appropriate for us given that the company is launching its revenue generating solution today. We are very excited about the future with Chirpify."

Other participating investors are impressive, too

I was happy to see Angels from TiE Oregon participating in this investment, as well. (They've invested in Geoloqi, among others.) And some of the other folks on the round bring some household---or at least techie household---names to the table as well. Now Chirpify boasts former Facebook General Counsel, the CEO of Hootsuite, the CEO of BuddyTV, and Geoff Entress from Seattle (also a HootSuite investor), among its investors.

This is the first big win for Upstart Labs

I'm a huge fan of what Greg Rau and crew are doing at Upstart Labs, a Portland startup accelerator that provides capital, engineering resources, and marketing oomph for their startups. Chirpify has proved the Upstart model works. "Chirpify is exactly the kind of project we want to get into. It's a great idea. It's great technology. And it's got a driven founder," Greg told me. "We wanted to help the company become more attractive to investors. And that has proved out." And the feeling is mutual. Chris Teso, CEO of Chirpify, has said that working with Upstart was "absolutely key" to what Chirpify has been able to accomplish.

Mythbusting

There are two prevalent myths that have been circulating around the Portland area: 1) You can't be a solo founder and raise money, and 2) You can't raise money in Portland. Chirpify seems to have managed to circumvent---if not completely demolish---those myths. Which means that others can, too. "Once Chirpify decided to raise funds," Teso told Mike Rogoway at The Oregonian. "The money came quickly."

If you build it, they will come

And last but not least, the new service that Chirpify rolled out today---being able to purchase music via Twitter---was very much a case of building a better mousetrap and having the world beating a path to Upstart Labs' door. "As you know, we started with Sell Simply with a focus on individuals and physical goods," Teso told me. "But we realized that digital content is so much easier than physical goods." And that revelation made sense to the music industry. Rhymesayers, an independent underground hip hop label, thought it would be the perfect way to get their music in the hands of fans. "More and more artists are looking to have a direct relationship with their fans," said Teso. "We let them skip the middle man." And now, tracks and tickets are for sale using Chirpify. Making Twitter a veritable competitor to iTunes. That's a pretty big deal.

… and I'm sure I've missed stuff

But those are the facets that make this whole thing super interesting to me. And incredibly proud of what the Chirpify team has managed to construct with a skeleton crew. Just imagine what they can accomplish as they grow. For more, read Chirpify's blog post on the funding. Or read one of the other publications covering the news.

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5 Responses to “Chirpify lands $1.3 million in funding … and that’s not even the most interesting part of the story”

  1. Sheetal Dube says:

    This is very exciting for everyone indeed – Voyager, TiE Oregon, Upstart Labs, Chris Teso and Portland entrepreneurs!

  2. What I love about deals like these is that it continues to raise Portland’s profile across the U.S. and that helps every Portland-based company raise money. A huge congratulations to the Chirpify team and we wish them outrageous success.

  3. [...] The Series C funding will be used for talent and promotional efforts. Norwest Venture Partners (NVP) led the round. General Catalyst, Voyager Capital, and Steamboat Ventures also participated. This marks the second time Voyager has participated in a Portland company, this quarter. In April, Voyager led the investment in Chirpify. [...]

  4. [...] And it happened 364 days after Voyager’s last bet on Chirpify. [...]

  5. [...] And it happened 364 days after Voyager’s last bet on Chirpify. [...]


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