Closely Raises $3M To Continue Growth and Development of Perch App

The people who run small businesses are in a bind when it comes to social media.

User reviews on Yelp shape their reputations. Deals advertised on Facebook and Twitter connect with new and current customers. But mastering social media takes time that overstretched small business owners don’t have.

That’s the view of Perry Evans, founder and CEO of Denver-based Closely. Apparently a growing number of people agree—around 40,000 users have downloaded Perch, the startup’s flagship mobile app. Perch enables small business owners to track what people are saying about them online—and what their competitors are saying and doing.

Investors agree too. Today, Closely announced it has raised $3 million in what Evans called an expansion of its Series A round. According to the SEC, Closely raised $3.6 million in 2011, with Comcast Ventures the lead investor.

Grotech Ventures led this part of the round and general partner Joe Zell will join Closely’s board, Evans said. Steadfast Venture Capital and CNF Investments also participated in the round.

Closely isn’t Evans’ first startup. He’s a prominent name in Denver’s startup world, having been a member of Mapquest’s founding team. He also was chairman and co-founder of Jabber and co-founder and CEO of Local Matters.

The money will be used on customer acquisition and to further develop the software that runs Perch, Evans said.

Perch collects data from the most popular social networks and deal sites such as Groupon, streamlines it into a single feed for users, and allows customized notifications. Users also can create what Perch calls “a watchlist” of nearby competitors.

“Our basic proposition is you don’t have to go looking for data anymore—it will come to you,” Evans said. “Instead having to log in to Facebook and Twitter and Yelp and all of these tools everyday to see if you should be responding to something, we take all of that content and basically aggregate it into one application.”

But Perch goes beyond aggregation, Evans said.

“Under the cover, what we’re going to do is use all this data that we’re aggregating and presenting to the business to help them discover the gaps and weaknesses of what they’re doing and discover new things that are coming into the market that are being used by competitors,” he said. “The app is really just a starting point.”

Identifying weaknesses and offering remedies will be key to how Closely monetizes Perch, which currently is free for users, Evans said. Closely intends to sign up partners that will market services to small business owners through Perch. If Perch identifies a weakness, it will suggest a product that could fix it, Evans said.

E-mail marketing software provider Constant Contact and Web hosting company GoDaddy already are partners, but they won’t be the only ones, Evans said.

“There are literally hundreds of marketing service providers who are trying to vie for the attention of small businesses, and they’re doing it so incredibly inefficiently,” he said.

When approaching potential partners, Evans said he’ll emphasize the way Perch is highly selective about which services it recommends, basing the decision on the data it aggregates. That way users aren’t bombarded with irrelevant offers, he said.

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