The Fan Data Goldmine

New tech that allows artists to interact with superfans — and turn their data into dollars — promises to open long-term revenue streams

Jessie Reyez loves to text, especially with fans. Using a phone number assigned through the celebrity text-messaging startup Community and shared on her social media accounts, the singer-songwriter makes time nearly every day to have one-on-one conversations with her most dedicated supporters where they share memes and talk about their lives.

“Some really kind fans send me heartfelt messages, and we have exchanges regularly now that I have them in my favorites,” says Reyez. “Distance between humans seems to be getting larger and larger. However, being able to get directly into [fans’] text messages has been a step in making a fan more than a fan.”

Along the way, Reyez is getting something just as valuable: a pathway to retrieve data about her superfans, who each opted in by way of sending a text and agreeing to an online consent form. Through sending mass messages to segments of her Community fan base, Reyez has pulled information — such as hometown, age and interests — to target her most-engaged fans with digital advertisements, strike brand deals and more. Community also helps her make merchandise decisions based on fans’ feedback and mobilize fans to get the attention of brands and artists she wants to collaborate with on social media. “There’s just so many ways that you can monetize these days, and Community allows you to do that, especially when you’re not touring,” says Reyez co-manager, Mauricio Ruiz. “Using every digital outlet that you can to make sure you’re still engaging with your fan base is incredibly important.”

The music industry has long ridden on superfans: the top 1% most-engaged, day-one die-hards who consistently stream their favorite artists’ music, buy their merchandise, pay to see their shows and share their music with friends. Executives interviewed for this story estimate that superfans on average make up 50% to 80% of an artist’s overall revenue. Yet on an individual level, superfans were long invisible to their idols, since artists and their teams lacked the tools to track fans’ information and habits.

Along the way, and perhaps most importantly, Audigent only pulls data from users who opt in through a pop-up consent form and only analyzes fully anonymized data sets that are restricted to users’ content consumption, interests and affinities. Audigent doesn’t track personally identifiable information (aka PII), and users can opt out at any time. While tech companies like Facebook and Google have faced backlash for their handling of personal data, Senderoff and Katz see Audigent as an opportunity for the music industry to start its entry into ad tech on the right foot. “In past construction of these big social networks, you were sharing your data unbeknownst to you in a lot of ways,” says Senderoff. “We have to understand the responsibility of data and accountability when we’re aggregating it.”

Read the full article here.

Audigent Secures $19.1 Million Series B Financing Round Led by EPAM Systems/The Go Philly Fund

Audigent, the “2.0” data management platform (DMP) and leading edge “data agency” that has pioneered data-driven private marketplace deals through its cookieless HALOM Identity product suite has announced that it has completed a $19.1 million Series B round of financing.

The funding will allow Audigent to continue its expansion as the premier first party data platform for the entertainment, sports, lifestyle and Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) eCommerce verticals as well as further its innovation as one of the leading next-gen data monetization platforms for major retail and CPG partners. The Go Philly Fund, a joint venture between Ben Franklin Technology Partners and EPAM Systems, Inc., has led the investment round with additional participation from both existing and new investors including: Broadscale Group, Raised in Space, MathCapital, Riverpark Ventures and others.

The investment brings Audigent’s total funding to $33.6 million since launch and will help the company broaden the reach of its cookieless PMP products and HALO IDTM while also aggressively expanding its sales and marketing efforts globally. Additionally, it will fuel the continued expansion of first-to-market data and inventory monetization tools for premium digital publishers. EPAM’s VP, Co-Head of North America, Regina Viadro will join the Board of Directors.

The Series B financing builds on an exciting year of growth for Audigent, highlighted by extraordinary demand for its SmartPMPTM and ContextualPMPTM products as well as growing adoption of its cookieless HALO IDTM by both content publishers and supply side platforms (SSP).

Read the full article here.

Clutch Platform Powers Wizard World's First Loyalty Program for the Comic Con Crowd


The producer of the iconic pop culture conventions enlists a marketing technology innovator to deliver personalized, more memorable experiences for fans.

When it comes to fan loyalty, there’s arguably no more devout group than the multitudes of decked-out fans attending Wizard World Comic Con events each year. Now the iconic tour’s producer, Wizard World, Inc. has teamed with Clutch, a consumer management platform pioneer, to further kindle fan devotion through enhanced, personalized experiences at its comic, sci-fi, and related events.

With its new fan loyalty program, Wizard World will offer exclusive incentives for advanced admission purchases along with options to pre-order photo op and autograph sessions at its pop culture events. The program will also help Wizard World use data insights provided by the Clutch platform to identify a fan’s favorite movies, TV shows, comics, and characters, and deliver customized experiences.

“With a fast-growing list of characters, brands, and celebrities participating in our comic con events, it is crucial to Wizard World and our partners that our offerings match specific fan preferences and deliver exactly what they are most passionate about,” explained John Macaluso, Wizard World CEO. “Clutch’s advanced customer marketing technology gives us keen insight into our fans’ behavior and interests, which allows us to cater to their individual preferences and maximize their experiences at all of our shows across the country.”

“Today’s consumers demand that brands deliver customized, even ‘special’ experiences, regardless of location, product, or scale,” said Chris Jones, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Clutch. “Personalization is critical to every customer-centric business, and it will come naturally for a brand like Wizard World that’s already had tremendous success with experiential marketing. The Clutch-Wizard World team is going to explore fan loyalty, events marketing, and data collection in a way that hasn’t been done before, creating untold growth opportunity for both organizations.”

The loyalty program is planned for full-scale deployment in the first quarter of 2016. In the meantime, you can see the conflux of devotees for yourself at the next Wizard World Comic Con, happening November 20-22 in Reno, Nevada.

About Clutch
Clutch’s advanced Consumer Management platform delivers customer intelligence and personalized engagements empowering consumer-focused brands to identify, understand and motivate their Most Valuable Customers (MVCs). Its advanced marketing platform integrates customer data across point-of-sale, ecommerce, mobile and social channels delivering personalized experiences, intelligent engagements and loyal customers.Headquartered outside of Philadelphia, Clutch’s solutions impact over 55 million consumers of over 750 brands. Clutch is a proud partner of Safeguard Scientifics SFE, +0.47% and Ben Franklin Technology Partners. For more information visit, follow Clutch Holdings on LinkedIn or@ClutchSuccess on Twitter.

About Wizard World
Wizard World, Inc. ( produces Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, television, cosplay, comics, graphic novels, toys, video gaming, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. A first-class lineup of topical programming takes place at each event, with celebrity Q&A’s, comics-themed sessions, costume contests, movie screenings, evening parties and more. Wizard World has also launched CONtv, a digital media channel in partnership with leading independent content distributor Cinedigm™ (NASDAQ: CIDM), and ComicConBox™, a premium subscription-based monthly box service. Fans can interact with Wizard World on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media services.

The 2015-16 Wizard World Comic Con schedule is available at:

Houwzer, Phenom, Piano and more Philly Tech Companies Made 2021’s Inc. 5000 list

The 2021 edition of the Inc. 5000 list, a roundup of the country’s fastest-growing private companies, was released Tuesday, and Philadelphia-area companies made a strong showing again.

This year’s list comes amid a continuing global pandemic, taking stock of the companies that report three-year revenue growth. Out of the top 5,000 companies, 149 come from the Philly metro area, which includes the ‘burbs, South Jersey and Wilmington — though, caveat, not all of those “Delaware” companies are actually from Delaware. Last year’s list saw 136 local businesses ranked.

The local list makers represented a median growth of 134% since last year, saw $7 billion in total revenue and added 15,012 jobs, per Inc. Twelve of the local companies were newly founded, and 70 are repeat honorees, including many of the tech companies represented.

Check out some highlights from 2021’s list:

  • Real estate tech company Houwzer, which made the Inc. 5000 last year, too, ranked No. 918 this year, down a few hundred from 2020’s No. 730 ranking.
  • HR tech company Phenom ranks right under Houwzer at No. 928. It’s risen the ranks from last year, when it placed No. 1,852.
  • B2B software company Piano ranks No. 1,028 on this year’s list, a few spots down from its rank as No. 708 in 2019 and 440 in 2018.

See the full list and article here.

Houwzer’s Next Move

As a first grader in Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey, Mike Maher launched his earliest small business: selling Blow Pops and construction paper.

“Back in the day, colored paper was in high demand and kids always like candy, so I thought it was a great way to subsidize my own love of art and candy,” Maher says, laughing at the memory.

Now, as the CEO of Philly-based Houwzer—the five-year-old real estate brokerage firm that’s disrupted the industry both by employing salaried (versus commissioned) brokers, and committing so deeply to doing good that they’re a certified B Corp—Maher is continuing to recognize needs where others miss them, with a deep sense of empathy, hard work and service.

A sound direction

Long moved by Toms Shoes and Warby Parker, Maher knew there was no practical way to introduce a one-for-one model for homes. But reading Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law and learning more about the demographic that the United Way and others have dubbed ALICE—asset limited, income constrained employed—prompted his latest venture.

Just this month, Houwzer announced a new, nonprofit RiseUp Fund: Starting in 2021, for every home sold, Houwzer will commit $100 to help provide down payment and closing cost assistance to the underserved.

“The mission will be to accelerate the generational, upward mobility of the underserved through homeownership,” Maher says. “We looked at the resources we had: agents in the field who can probably find off-market deals to acquire property; mortgage advisors who can help clients get their credit in good standing; and so on” and figured out how to maximize both for the greater good.

Over the next 12 months, Houwzer expects to do close to 1,500 transactions in the markets it serves—meaning the fund will have, at a minimum, $150,000. But they’ll also invite sellers, who on average save $15,000 by working with Houwzer, to match that $100; that could bring the projected pot to $300,000. They’ll invite employees to donate around the holidays, potentially raising that pot higher still. And while $300,000 can only go so far, imagine what they can do as the company continues to grow.

Read the full article here.

Philadelphia Adtech Startup Sidecar, Backed by $33.5M in Funding, Acquired by New York Competitor

Philadelphia advertising technology startup Sidecar has been acquired by New York-based competitor Quartile.

The deal closed last week, and the terms were not disclosed. Sidecar will take Quartile’s name, and the company will retain its office at One South Broad in Philadelphia. The acquisition will fold Sidecar’s 180 employees into Quartile, bringing the total headcount to 300.

Quartile CEO Daniel Knijnik will remain chief executive, and Sidecar CEO Andre Golsorkhi will serve as president of the company.

Sidecar is an e-commerce tech firm that uses artificial intelligence to help retailers determine where and how to market their products. It was founded in 2014 with a focus on the e-commerce space for small and large online retailers.

Sidecar raised a total $33.5 million in venture capital before the acquisition. It last raised a $7.5 million round in 2019. Investors included Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Harbert Growth Partners, Osage Venture Partners, Ascent Venture Partners and Robin Hood Ventures.

Read the full article here.

Real Estate Tech Company Houwzer Raised a $118M Series B as it Introduces New Products

Philadelphia-based real estate company Houwzer has raised a $118 million Series B, the company announced Tuesday.

The round includes $18 million in equity and a $100 million warehouse line of credit, led by Edison Partners. It brings the total equity funding for the B Corp — which operates locally and in DC, the greater Maryland region and Florida — to $35 million since its start in 2015. The funding will primarily go toward the launch of three new consumer products, the company said: Cash Advantage, Convenience Offers and Buy Before You Sell.

Cash Advantage will allow buyers to make Houwzer-backed, all-cash offers, while Convenience Offers gives a seller the flexibility to move quickly with a Houwzer-backed, all-cash offer on their current home. The Buy Before You Sell product is a combination of the two, serving both the buying and selling side of the business.

These products add to the company’s original business model, which leverages technology and full-service, salaried realtors to save home sellers what it says is an average of $15,000, as well as provide home buyers a pressure-free experience. Traditionally, agents would receive a 6% fee; instead, Houwzer charges a flat $5,000 listing fee paid at closing, plus 2.5% for the buyer’s broker.

Read the full article here.

Sidecar Just Raised an $11 Million Series C

In a new round of equity and debt financing, Center City ecommerce marketing company Sidecar just raised an $11 million Series C.

Led by Harbert Growth Partners —  a venture firm with offices Virginia, Alabama and Florida, Andre Golsorkhi’s company also secured support from previous investors Ascent Venture Partners and Osage Venture Partners on this round.

Per a company press release, the funding will let Sidecar continue to develop its machine-learning-enabled platform, which allows retailers to deploy marketing campaigns through online channels like Google Shopping, Bing Shopping and Facebook Ads. It also plans to grow staff by 40 percent in 2017, with the current headcount at 150 staffers out of its year-old Philly HQ at One South Broad and a U.K. beachhead.

According to the company, the hiring push will “draw heavily” from Philly’s tech talent pool. On the Market alert.

This Series C round brings Sidecar’s total financing to $26 million in under three years. Past investors include a roster of local investors like former GSI Commerce CEO Michael Rubin, Gabriel Investment’s Richard Vague and Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

Read the full article here.

Why Houwzer Launched This Nonprofit Fund for Low-Income, First-Time Homebuyers

Tech-enabled real estate brokerage Houwzer this week launched the RiseUp Fund, a nonprofit to bring grants and resources to low- to moderate-income first-time homebuyers.

The Center City company’s new program comes amid a still-hot housing market and the recent re-up of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp.’s own $10,000 grant program for first-time homebuyers, Philly First Home.

The fund, which receives $100 from every Houwzer transaction, launched first in Philly, with plans to expand to Houwzer’s other markets, DC and Baltimore next year, and Florida in 2023. Recipients of RiseUp funds get $5,000 in grants for down payments or closing costs, and go through first-time buyer educational courses.

Those eligible are considered ALICE (asset limited, income constrained and employed), per United Way. These individuals and households are those least likely to grow generational wealth, a process the RiseUp fund is aiming to change. In Philadelphia, the median income for a family in these circumstances is between $31,000 and $84,000. These folks must have saved at least $3,000 but no more than $10,000 and have a minimum credit score of 620 to be eligible for the grant.

“As we continue to navigate one of the most difficult housing climates in history, Houwzer remains committed to leveling the playing field and assuring everyone has the opportunity to achieve the American dream of homeownership,” Mike Maher, Houwzer CEO said in a statement.

Read the full article here.

Clutch Raised $5.25 million and Acquired Chicago Company, Persio

Ambler-based marketing company Clutch has announced its acquisition of Chicago-based company Persio for an undisclosed amount. It also announced a $5.25 million round of funding, bringing the total fundraising to nearly $20 million.

Persio, founded in 2012, is an intelligent mobile promotions platform. It has led hundreds of successful campaigns for retailers with inventive mobile marketing techniques like mobile scratch-and-win offers and promotions for mobile apps. It will add powerful new mobile marketing capabilities to the Clutch platform.

Co-founder Ned Moore will remain CEO of the company, which will retain the Clutch name. Between the company’s Ambler HQ and Persio’s existing offices in Chicago, Clutch will grow to 75 employees.

Per the release, Clutch is now in a position to capture a bigger share of the $32 billion marketing technology industry. Brands are increasingly looking to automate mobile solutions to deliver rewards, coupons, and more. Simultaneously, marketing departments need a technology stack that can do the work of several vendors hired to solve discrete problems.

A strong complement to other channels, SMS marketing has seen increased demand among brands and retailers looking to reach mobile customers in real time. In fact, SMS messages have a 98 percent open rate.

Clutch plans to make the new mobile functionality available to clients in the first quarter of 2017. The transaction closed in December.

In addition to acquiring Persio, the venture-backed company also announced a $5.25 million round of funding. Furthermore, it added a new seat on its board of directors which will be occupied by Philly-based Olivam Partners CEO Larry Stone. Stone is the single investor behind the round. Previous investors in the company include Safeguard Scientifics, which has been consistently investing in the company since 2014.

Read the full article at Technically Philly.