Mobile branded content company TextPride has completed a $1 million seed funding round, the company said. TextPride makes stickers and emojis that mobile messaging apps can add as paid upgrades to their services.
“Mobile messaging apps are rapidly overtaking the traditional SMS experience on smartphones, collectively representing some 800 million worldwide users today,” Evan Wray, co-founder of TextPride, said in a statement. “TextPride content unlocks a powerful way for brands and messaging apps to increase engagement with their fans without alienating them over this highly personal channel.”
Asian messaging service LINE makes $10 million a month in branded sticker sales, TextPride cofounder Evan Wray said, and the company expects similar take-up globally. In a initial test of the company’s content, 17 percent of a 100,000-person test pool did in fact buy the company’s stickers, generating “more then eight times higher” paid engagement than usual.
The company is currently working with over 200 brands, including the University of Notre Dame, the Chicago Blackhawks, NASCAR, and the U.S. Military, which is bound to be popular. From those 200 partners, TextPride has created over 8,000 branded emoji.
“People love mobile messaging because it’s a content-driven, free and highly personal experience shared with family, friends and loved ones,” Wray said. “Brands have struggled over this channel to date because the approach hasn’t matched this dynamic – direct messages from companies feel forced, and no one wants to feel pitched over a text message.”
The company says on its website that 400 million users have used or seen its branded emoji, and stated that it “expects to launch content from its brand partners with top mobile messaging app partners in the very near future.” Those top mobile partners, who collectively represent hundreds of millions of users, are four major messaging app platforms, the company says.
The founders, Sean O’Brien and Evan Wray, started TextPride in 2012. The names of the investors involved in the seed round were not released.