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1Mby1M Deal Radar 2018: Tech Essence, London

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 17th 2018

Tech Essence is a SaaS-based marketing technology platform that enables marketing professionals to make informed decisions about measuring and optimizing multi-channel marketing campaigns.

Tech Essence was founded by CEO Ken Leren in 2014. While working at a leading marketing technology company dedicated to providing online lead generation solutions, Ken was frustrated using multiple platforms to manage, track, and report campaign performance. He then decided to solve the problem by building a comprehensive, seamless marketing platform called Marketing Town that could manage all multi-channel marketing campaigns.

Marketing Town is the next generation of campaign management, tracking, and analytics technology. It allows marketing professionals to track and monitor traffic and measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns in real-time. It aims to help data-driven brands and data-handling businesses find new audiences and build long-term relationships with customers based on transparency and trust. Within the platform, advertisers and publishers can track conversions and, more importantly, determine performance levels and ROI from each affiliate activity, based on post conversion metrics. With greater transparency, visibility, and trust, there are greater opportunities for marketing and sales.

When he founded Tech Essence, the performance marketing industry was highly fragmented in Europe and United States. There was an opportunity for a platform like Marketing Town to solve a very specific problem of providing a cross-channel marketing campaign overview. Competitors were either very specialized and could not provide a marketplace due to the architectural design of their platforms, or they operated in a single vertical such as affiliate marketing or lead generation, and therefore, they did not address the challenge of running multi-channel marketing campaigns, which is commonplace today.

While existing lead management platforms  like LeadByte, Cake, Databowl, and Lead Intelligence and affiliate networks like HasOffers, Affiliate Window, and Impact Radius did not allow users to see how effective their performance marketing activity was, the challenge was clearly to build a platform that aggregated campaign tracking and performance data into a comprehensive platform, as well as allowed campaign owners to design everything themselves rather than fitting their campaigns in one mould.

Ken was invited to introduce his idea to Peter Phelps and Howard Colvin – two experienced mentors, who are now Tech Essence’s dedicated business partners. They both saw a market opportunity for Tech Essence to support their other portfolio companies.

The main value proposition of Marketing Town is that it is a transparent and affordable performance marketing platform available. It offers fully customizable reporting for analyzing all channels together, partner management, and campaign integration features without any usage limits. In addition, Tech Essence enables brands to access targeted and quality traffic by providing access to a large network of compliant, vetted publishers. In this new era of data regulation, its due diligence functionality, third-party auditing, and compliant supplier network set it apart from competition.

With two clients already signed up, Tech Essence was able to develop its product based on actual and immediate demand. After the platform was launched, the company landed a deal with one of the world’s biggest retailers. Within the first twelve months of operation, the company built an impressive client base including Amazon Instant Video, Dennis Publishing, and Financial Times, and its exclusive network has grown to include hundreds of leading marketing partners.

In the first year, its customer base grew by 200%. It maintains a retention rate of 90% each year, which is above average for the industry. Its revenue was £2.2 million ($3.14 million) in 2017. The company projects 180% growth for 2017-18.

Its target markets, in order of importance, are UK lead generation, UK affiliate, EU lead generation, and EU affiliate. The upcoming GDPR regulations also make its platform attractive for non-profit organizations, call centers, and luxury retail brands. Non-profits can get access to a network of more than 900 compliant UK publishers while call centers can use the platform to move to high quality leads. Marketing Town can also help brands generate their own database of first-party opted-in consumers and capture valuable insight to increase the relevance of their future marketing communication.

The company offers three different packages. Pricing for Media planning and buying as well as Managed services is based on a percentage of media spend and pricing for Self-service and support ranges from £299 to £799 per month.

Tech Essence believes that future potential for its product lies within the finance, retail, gaming, retail, and travel sectors. It also plans to expand internationally, opening much bigger operations.

According to the IAB and PwC’s Online Performance Marketing study in 2017, the performance marketing industry is split into affiliate marketing (88%) and lead generation (12%), out of which marketing technology accounts for about 10%. The online performance marketing spend reached £1.5 billion in the UK in 2017, so the company expects the possible demand for marketing technology to be £150m, £15m of which is lead generation.

Tech Essence raised £225,000 ($321,838) at a valuation £1.2 million ($1.7M) in October 2014 in an Angel Investors and Hedge Fund round. Early this year in January, it raised £103,000 ($147,000) from angel investors at a valuation of £2.75 million ($3.93M). With the new round of investment, Tech Essence will have the resources needed for continued growth and success during its transition from a start-up to a growth stage company.

The company says its ideal investor is a strategic partner with experience in the MarTech sector, such as a business offering marketing automation and technology solutions in various digital marketing channels.

Its business growth strategy focuses on improving Marketing Town’s interface, expanding overseas, specifically in Germany, France, Spain, and Scandinavia. Most importantly, its focus is on remaining competitive with constant introduction of new features and improvement of existing ones.

The company has recently appointed former Head of Affiliate Sales at Omnicom Media Group Ricki Jones as its new Chief Commercial Officer to lead its future international commercial presence outside UK.

Regarding the exit strategy, Ken says his top priority is to build a company that is growing and is increasingly profitable. Only time and performance will clarify which exit strategy is best for the company, but he thinks a trade sale to strategic buyers might be the right exit route for Tech Essence.

This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Deal Radar 2018

. CliniOps, Fremont, CA
. Tech Essence, London

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