Ncrease, a 3-person D.C.-based startup, is in the business of predicting your next purchase. The firm, in other words, aims to know what you want to buy even before you make that decision. And it does so by analyzing language, key phrases and relationships found on a person’s social media account.
If, for example, you’re having a bad day and choose to write on FaceBook “What a long day, I need a vacation” then you may soon find a coupon in your email inbox courtesy of Marriott that details a deluxe trip to the Bahamas. You can thank companies like Ncrease for that super targeted marketing effort. But then again, that’s just the contemporary advertising world we now live in.
Ncrease is far from alone in this new wave of marketing technology businesses, focused on customer retention, but CEO/co-founder Aaron Fitzgerald tells DC Inno that his company is unique because they use social media for retention rather that straight outreach.
“We plan to make Ncrease an office staple over the next several years. To start, this year, our plan is two-fold: direct sales and partnerships. For direct sales, we’re working with digital agencies to introduce our technology to established brands. And, after some promising conversations at SXSW, we’re seeking partnerships with commerce platforms and email marketing providers,” explained Fitzgerald.
While Ncrease has been around for roughly two years, they’ve pivoted, taken hits and changed their business model more than once. A beta launched in August, which remains active with several dozen customers actively using Ncrease.
A hard launch is planned for later this year, but Fitzgerald didn’t specify a timeframe. He added, “we’re a data company after all, things are always in motion.” The mission, at least for the moment, is to attract some quality hires and to continue to develop new and advantageous features for customers, he described.
Those beta customers, in addition to using the platform regularly, are also experimenting and providing Ncrease with important feedback so that a stable product launch is possible in the future.
“I’m always learning something new daily at Ncrease. But, the most important lesson I learned is that nothing can compete with quality customer service. As a startup, having a direct-line of communication with customers is key to success. Don’t fear feedback, aggressively seek it out—then iterate,” said Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, a former Capitol Hill staffer and compliance manager for local education technology giant 2U, got the idea for Ncrease through his first startup, called Turms. Turms, a now defunct company, created software that would help colleges find alumni who were more likely to donate money.
Turms would do this by analyzing and identifying the friends of active donors through social media, thereby coming up with a list of likely candidates for outreach. The goal of the system was to cut down on outreach time yet to increase the effectiveness of alumni offices to bring dollars to their school. Some of the backend code used to build Turms was then transplanted and repurposes to design Ncrease.
Fitzgerald described his news business as offering a “social intelligence tool” which helps customers (companies big and small) retain and keep customers buying. The platform largely works by integrating with a client’s established point of login—for example, an e-commerce company that requires an account also registers vast customer information; this is what Ncrease is pulling on.
Another option for Ncrease integration can come about directly via the company. A client can pass over a simple list of customer emails and available social media information. By cross sectioning this data Ncrease can track down the social accounts of former customers. Importantly, they are solely focused on a client’s past customers, like loyalty program members. By design, Ncrease is all about retention, rather than the expensive endeavor of attracting new customers.
Fitzgerald declined to discuss Ncrease’s revenue figures
Last year, Ncrease was based in Tennessee. They company was part of an accelerator program from April to November. Fitzgerald brought the company back to his home of D.C. shortly afterwards. Before deciding on D.C., Ncrease was scouting several other cities but they ultimately decided on the District because it boasts a “good ecosystem, close knit tech community and great talent.”
Fitzgerald told DC Inno that Ncrease is currently speaking with investors to raise a $600,000 seed round so that they can scale operations and hire several additional team members.