LocalResponse Expands to Chicago, Plans to Double Staff in 2012

With eyes pointed westward, New York-based LocalResponse announced today it opened a new office in Chicago and is considering plans for an office in California. LocalResponse, backed by Cava Capital and others, puts a business-to-business spin on the “check-in” market. The startup created a platform that lets brands and other marketers respond with relevant ads and offers to consumers who announce via the social sphere where they are. Kathy Leake, president and co-founder of LocalResponse, says the company opened the Chicago office to expand its reach with retailers and consumer goods clients who are based in the Midwest. “It made a lot of sense for that to be our first move outside of New York,” she says.

Brands such as Coca-Cola, Verizon, Microsoft, and General Electric use LocalResponse’s platform, which aggregates users’ check-ins from Foursquare as well as updates from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter that include mentions of where the users are. Marketers can respond to such users with offers that relate to their whereabouts.

Leake says LocalResponse plans to continue its growth into next year. The company, she says, expects to double its current staff of 20, which includes the Chicago group, by the end of third quarter 2012. The Chicago office is staffed by a team of sales and account management representatives led by Todd Hayes, previously of 24/7 Real Media. Leake says LocalResponse is also weighing its options for a West Coast office.

“Our platform offers a lot of opportunity for the entertainment category so we are thinking about Los Angeles,” she says. “It’s either going to be L.A. or San Francisco.” Leake says LocalResponse’s platform can be used across a variety of industries but her company specializes in retail, consumer goods, entertainment, travel, and leisure.

In October, LocalResponse closed a $5 million funding round led by Cava Capital and Vodafone Group with participation from Advancit Capital and Progress Ventures. “Now that we’ve closed on our Series A round we’re able to hire the talent we need to scale the business in 2012,” Leake says.

Going forward, she says, LocalResponse wants to self-fund its growth with revenue, generated by charging marketers when customers click on the ads and offers, instead of raising a Series B round. “Raising capital in this climate is incredibly difficult and time consuming,” she says.

Leake says her company stands out in the check-in world by aggregating data to help brands target their marketing campaigns and by leveraging so-called natural language when consumers mention a product or place in the social sphere. “For a client like Macy’s, if someone were to say over Twitter ‘I’m at Macy’s’, they’re not checking in on a Foursquare per se but they are announcing their location,” Leake says. “We’re able to turn that into a targetable impression for a marketer.”

Leake says LocalResponse wants to open more satellite offices in the future to bring its sales and account management staff closer to its clients. “We have every intention to have people in-market across the U.S. eventually,” she says.

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