Zingle Raises $3M to Expand and Improve Messaging App Technology

Zingle, a Carlsbad, CA-based tech startup targeting the service industry and consumer-facing businesses with its messaging app technology, has raised $3 million in venture capital, according to a regulatory filing earlier this month.

The funding, provided by Santa Barbara, CA-based Rincon Venture Partners and Venice, CA-based CrossCut Ventures, represents the first institutional investment for Zingle. The company raised $1 million last year, according to a 2015 regulatory filing.

Ford Blakely, who was previously a business and financial consultant with LECG, founded Zingle in 2009 with a stand-alone device for restaurants, coffee shops, and other service businesses that enabled customers to use mobile text messaging for their take-out orders. The device would print each order for the business and respond to the customer by texting a confirmation and order number.

Since then, Zingle has evolved into a platform that aggregates message apps, including Facebook Messenger, Twitter direct messaging, SMS (text messaging), and in-app-chat (for branded apps), in a single user interface, enabling a hotel front desk, for example, to respond to guest requests.

The company said its Web-based technology can automatically respond with a programmed response, (For example, responding automatically to a hotel guest who asks: “What is the wifi password?”) or forward the query to an appropriate hotel staffer to respond.

In April, Zingle said Hyatt had selected Zingle as its preferred guest messaging service for Hyatt and its affiliated hotels around the world.

Mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Viber have exploded in popularity in recent years. Many offer low-cost or free chat and social messaging, and enable users to communicate via group chats, and to exchange video clips, digital images, graphics, and emojis. In February (about a year after Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion), WhatsApp disclosed that it had surpassed 1 billion current monthly users.

Messaging apps from Zingle—along with applications from bigger Bay Area competitors like Twilio, Plivo, and Tropo—also have proven to be useful tools for e-commerce and business-to-customer interactions.

In an e-mail to Xconomy, Zingle’s Blakely said he plans to use the venture funding to “invest further in product to make sure we are providing the most current, forward-thinking customer messaging platform for all our customers.”

Blakely said he also intends to add sales and marketing resources to take advantage of increasing demand from businesses for Zingle’s messaging technology. The company currently has just under 30 employees.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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