Cc:Betty, a startup that helps users organize their email, announced today that it has raised $1.5 million in seed funding. The round was led by Venrock, the firm where co-founder and chief executive Michael Cerda incubated the company as an entrepreneur in residence.
The Palo Alto, Calif. company creates a “mailspace” where users can get the information that they want from their emails — they can see all the messages in a single conversation, as well as all the related files, images, events, and other elements. But Cc:Betty isn’t trying to entice people over to a new email service. Instead, you just use the program that you like, and as the company name implies, when you want the email to be stored in Cc:Betty’s system, you just include “email@example.com” as one of the recipients.
Since Cc:Betty launched its public beta test at the DEMO conference in March, Cerda says the company has gotten “tens of thousands of users” — those numbers aren’t huge yet, in part because Cc:Betty is still working hard on the design of its service (it announced several improvements last week). The simplicity of the Cc:Betty concept has been a strong draw for some, but it has also created confusion when others see an email thread and wonder, “Who the hell is Betty?” Cerda says. The company is developing other ways to improve the “on-ramp” to the product, such as integrating more closely with various email services.
“With those little knobs [i.e., the details of the Cc:Betty design], we’re finding that you can dial them back just slightly and it changes everything,” he says. “In some of the mail applications that we’re building, you won’t have to cc:Betty.”
As for revenue, Cerda says the biggest opportunity lies in lead generation — i.e., presenting users with deals and other advertising that’s relevant to their emails. He says the system will be more personalized and more sophisticated in the way it takes advantage of dta than what you see in a program like Gmail, where I, at least, only read the ads for laughs. Cc:Betty might also make money by licensing its technology to other companies.
The funding also included individual investors: Tuff Yen, who operates angel network Seraph Group, and Ariba founders Bobby Lent and Boris Putanec, who operate as Hillsven.
You can watch a video of Cerda’s presentation of Cc:Betty at DEMO below.