Even though they're part of a hot startup sector, daily deal sites often rely on a fairly old-fashioned way to reach their readers—email newsletters. A startup called Movable Ink wants to give those emails the flexibility and timeliness of a web page, and it just announced its first round of venture funding.
Co-founder and CEO Vivek Sharma said that with Movable Ink technology, deals sites don't have to send the same message to all of their members. An email can pull real-time data from the company's site, and also personalize the message for each recipient. For example, it can show the exact amount of time before a deal expires, new tweets from the deal company, and local maps. Or if a deal site isn't sure about the best design or messaging in an email, Movable Ink can send out three or four different versions, then, once it has data about user response, it will only load the most successful one.
Movable Ink now counts Daily Candy and GroupMe among its customers. One of the company's goals, Sharma said, is to push the boundaries of what's technically possible with an email. Even so, it's hard to imagine that a small startup (the team works out of the General Assembly co-working space in New York) has a lock on this kind of technology. There are other dynamic email services out there (such as LiveIntent and PowerInbox), but Sharma suggested that Movable Ink's other big differentiator is the fact that it's focuses on deals and commerce, rather than advertising per se, so it serves a different customer base.
"Their focus is on optimizing their own content," he said. "The biggest brands don't need to put third-party advertising in their emails."
Sharma and his co-founde Michael Nutt started the company about a year ago, and they've now raised a $1.3 million round led by Contour Venture Partners, with money from Metamorphic Ventures, ff Ventures, and Kima Ventures. They've also brought on some individual investors, usually with some expertise in email, including Joshua Baer, who runs his own email-focused startup OtherInbox, and Bob Pittman, the new CEO of Clear Channel.