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Online shopping startup Sift, which just closed a $2 million seed round, simultaneously snubs and relies on retail marketing e-mail.

The company’s iOS app sifts through the glut of daily marketing e-mail clogging your inbox and transforms that into a personalized storefront. It also incorporates data it gathers through social media, other publicly available sources, and your browsing history within the app, which launched on iPhone today after arriving on iPad last year.

Sift on iPhone

Above: Sift on iPhone

“We’ve spent the last year learning about our users, their shopping habits, what works and what doesn’t work in the mobile space — and we raised our seed round based on that information,” Sift CEO Saurin Shah told VentureBeat.

More than half of registered users permit the app to scan their inboxes, according to Shah. He declined to reveal specific user numbers, but he noted that two-thirds are women and that more than 50 percent of people who download the app continue to use it after three months.

Addressing privacy concerns, Shah said most people aren’t too hesitant to provide access to their personal data as long as they see a tangible benefit.

“This is completely opt-in, and … all the information we provide [to retailers] is [made anonymous],” he said. “Users have complete control over every aspect of what the app is sharing and what the app is not sharing.”

Sift just added a new feature called “shopping circle,” which recommends purchases for your friends and family based on social data it collects.

The Bay Area company was founded in December 2011 and currently has seven employees. It just closed a $1.5 million funding round led by DN Capital, adding to the $540,000 angel round it raised last year. It plans to use new capital to bring the service to Android and undertake additional engineering efforts.

Additional investors Sift include Tandem Capital, Social Internet Fund, FuturePerfect Ventures, Gray Corp, Unity Ventures, Sandhill Angels, and others.


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