Countable brings in $12M for virtual brand communities

Enterprise engagement company Countable raised $12 million in Series A funding so that brands can more easily engage with customers, even in a way that shows a brand’s values and stance on issues.

Existing investor Canaan Partners led the round and was joined by Ulysses Management and Global Catalyst Partners. In total, the company has raised about $16 million since the company was founded in 2014, Bart Myers, CEO of Countable, told TechCrunch.

In fact, the San Francisco-based company started out in solutions-based journalism, providing content around communities and people who wanted to drive outcomes. When Countable pivoted in 2017, Canaan Partners invested in the seed round and assisted the company’s transition into an enterprise SaaS organization.

“A lot of things are changing quickly with social media, which has become more toxic in some ways and less trustful about safety and security of its users, as well as taking away some of the controls that brands had to engage with their audience on their terms,” Myers said. “It used to be that you had free viral reach and traffic, but that has gone away, and it is now pay-for-play, which is not so good for reaching people organically.”

Instead, Countable is taking a cue from the positives of social media to build technology that nurtures more authentic communication and facilitates business and social outcomes. Myers considered it “like what Shopify did with the shopping cart, we are doing for community engagement.”

Here’s how it works: The company works with brands to establish the look of their site, including goals, timelines and feedback processes. After the site launches, brands can manage their audience of employees, consumers and partners. It can promote action items beyond a “like” button and leverage Countable’s “Causes” network of more than 190 million people.

The company then provides analytics to the brand on how the community is growing and insights on driving revenue, retention and innovation. On the community side, members can engage with the brand, even record video testimonials and attend events around the cause.

Countable has made over 120 “implementations” for brands like Starbucks, which uses it for employee engagement, Uber, Patagonia, Levi’s and PG&E, which Myers said uses its site to provide tips and resources to homeowners and businesses on how to prepare for emergencies.

“We give brands a lot of power to drive engagement and measure efficacy,” he added. “They can ask for feedback or encourage their audience members to share content with friends and tie it to incentives for deployment.”

In the past year, the company grew its revenue by nearly 300%; annual recurring revenue increased 277%, and it has more than doubled its customer acquisition and site usage.

To continue to meet that growth and scale its business operations, Myers expects to deploy the new funding into product development, go-to-market, expanding internationally and third-party integrations. It is also serving as a launchpad for social token community exchange.

“Brands increasingly want to have conversations with customers, and doing more of that bears fruit everywhere,” he added. “If you have your own community, it opens doors in terms of incentivization, is a way to quantify value and give customers ways to invest more in this experience.”