R/GA Accelerator Grad Footmarks Lands Investor and New Team Member
Footmarks on Tuesday announced it closed a $1.85 million seed round that also brought an experienced entrepreneur to the team.
Shawn Englund, founder of LearnLive Technologies, led the round and joined Footmarks as head of sales and operations.
The company graduated in March in the inaugural class of the R/GA Techstars Accelerator in New York, which specializes in connected devices and the Internet of Things.
Based in Bellevue, WA, Footmarks has developed devices called beacons that brick-and-mortar retailers can use to send messages to shoppers’ smartphones while inside their stores. That can include special offers on products physically near the customer. Beacons can also gather data on customer behavior.
Englund brings to Footmarks experience in cloud-based software as a service. He is also an entrepreneur who has grown a business. Thomson Reuters in 2012 acquired his previous company, LearnLive Technologies in Seattle. Seeing an opportunity to help a budding business mature, Englund says he wanted to be more than just an investor in Footmarks.
The beacons sector is growing, he says, but there are some concerns about the technology getting mishandled. If “the simplicity of the solution is taken to the extreme, couponing becomes too prevalent and an annoyance,” Englund says, “which would shut down the entire opportunity for the technology.”
He believes there is a better way to use beacons, by allowing consumers to pull contextual information on to their smartphones rather than have it pushed to them. Footmarks is also looking to use its technology outside of retail, Englund said, in workforce management, asset management, and other markets.
In addition to the funding and team expansion, Footmarks rolled out updates to its software development kits for Android and iOS, new firmware, and a new set of features. “We have taken something very complex and allowed for a simple engagement,” Englund says, “so it’s easy to manage a large deployment of tens of thousands of beacons.”