TechStars’ Apptentive Gets $1.2m to Improve Customer Service in Apps

If this is indeed the Christmas of the tablet, application publishers will have a huge new group of customers to serve in 2013.

Lucky for them, Seattle startup Apptentive—which has closed a $1.2 million seed round from Founder’s Co-Op, Google Ventures, and others—is releasing a tool to help app developers do customer service better.

A few lines of code from Apptentive creates an in-app mechanism to gather feedback, encourage favorable reviews, conduct surveys, and communicate with customers directly.

At a time when a four-year-old app publisher counts as long-tenured, Apptentive co-founder and chief executive Robi Ganguly (at left in the picture above) says app makers are just now becoming aware of the need to improve customer service and retention.

“When we’re talking to big brands that are doing this already in social media, they immediately understand what we’re providing,” he tells Xconomy. They appreciate the ability to communicate with customers directly through their apps, he adds.

Apptentive supports apps for iOS, Android, and Mac. Ganguly says the company is “definitely looking at Windows 8.” “We know that it’s going to be a large platform with a large installed base,” he says.

The funding, which is double what Apptentive set out to raise when it joined TechStars Seattle 2012 class, gives the company scope to hire three new engineers and a salesperson to build out and sell its software—priced on a tiered monthly subscription basis—as fast as possible. Apptentive has six employees and is based in the Founder’s Co-op space in South Lake Union.

Other investors in the seed round include Social Leverage, Golden Venture Partners, and angel investors Mike McSherry (Swype); Dan Shapiro (Sparkbuy, another Founders Co-op portfolio company, acquired by Google); Geoff Entress (Big Fish Games); and Gaylord Kellogg, an early Amazon investor.

Apptentive, founded in March 2011, chose convertible debt over equity for the funding round. I’m hearing that several TechStars companies are taking this route, which can offer speedier and easier closings.

Apptentive is the second company from the TechStars Seattle 2012 class to close funding. Bizible raised $1.7 million from Madrona Venture Group and others. The class had received more funding commitments going into its Nov. 1 Demo Day than the prior two classes combined.

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