Raises $4.8M to Make Bounce Messages a Thing of the Past

It’s always annoying when you send someone an e-mail message and it bounces back with a cryptic note declaring that it couldn’t be delivered. Why can’t someone turn those bounce messages into something clearer and more useful?

Colorado-based startup thinks it can do that, and it just raised a $4.8 million Series A round led by the Foundry Group, with Bullet Time Ventures and SK Ventures also investing. was founded in 2012 by self-described “old school e-mail guy” Scott Brown, who is its CEO. He said the company’s goal is to make bounce messages better for e-mail users, e-mail infrastructure providers, and security companies.

For consumers, it means replacing the familiar bounce message with something more intelligible.

“E-mail bounces have been the same for 32 years,” since the SMTP standard underlying e-mail was generally adopted, Brown said. “They’re plain text, they’re cryptic, they’re confusing, they’re full of technical jargon.”

“We take that cryptic message and we make it really clear about exactly what happened and exactly what they need to do next to fix the problem in plain, simple to understand language,” he said. will give e-mailers more than a spiffier message. They’ll also get a small advertisement. That gives companies that deliver e-mail—think e-mail providers like Google or cable and broadband companies—the chance to open a recurring revenue stream and a way to monetize its service, Brown said.

According to’s numbers, there are about 31 billion bounce messages delivered everyday, and 60 percent are opened, so that could translate into a lot of people seeing the ads.

Brown said also detects spam and collects information about spammers and bot nets that can be passed on to security and anti-spam companies.

The Foundry Group’s investment is one of a handful it has made in e-mail infrastructure companies. Other investments include Return Path, Postini (acquired by Google), and SendGrid.

The Foundry Group shares’s belief that bounced messages have untapped potential, managing director Ryan McIntyre wrote on the VC firm’s blog.

“[F]rom time to time, given our involvement in the e-mail domain, we come across companies that have ‘discovered’ interesting unaddressed ‘white spaces’ in the market. is one of those companies,” he wrote.

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