It’s official! We’re delighted to announce our $500k AUD pre-seed round of funding, led by Unify Ventures and Palm Beach Ventures (PBV).
Co-Founders Lachlan Fea and Joshua Heslin are excited to welcome a star-studded cast of new investors and heavyweight advisors along for the ride, including Alex Retzlaff (Unify Ventures), Mike van der Heijden (Portal Ventures), Jason Atkins (Cake Equity/PBV), George Hartley (Bluethumb, Smartrmail) and Chad Stephens (1Form, Fillr).
The story so far
We never set out to build a reviews platform. It happened by osmosis.
Cloutly took on a life of its own in late 2019, after internal use for clients at Lachlan's prior business, a digital marketing agency, bore repeated success stories.
Our clients wanted a reliable way to get more online reviews, anywhere, without being locked into big contracts.
What stood out was that across multiple verticals, businesses were frustrated by the same problem: there were dozens of review sites out there, but nothing that could bring them all together and put the business back in the control of their reputation.
Existing solutions were enterprise-level tools that took a transactional approach to review requests – sending out generic NPS messaging after a purchase while burning holes in the pockets of small businesses.
We saw an opportunity to turn the idea of transactional review requests on its head; to build a more personalised, engaging way to ask for feedback, testimonials and user-generated content (UGC) that authentically connects businesses and their customers.
Unlike competitors in the space, Cloutly allows businesses to segment their customers and ask for online reviews using personalised, automated video request campaigns.
Your customers don’t all share the same, cookie-cutter experience with your business, so why would you send them all the same, cookie-cutter review request?
Shockingly on average across other tools, only 7% of standard, text-based review requests result in a successful review.
Customer reviews are the lifeblood of business. Whether you’re a local accountant, dentist or real estate agent, consumers actively compare you against your competitors online before they make a buying decision (whether you like it or not). And it’s not just on Google. It’s on Facebook, Tripadvisor, Yelp, Realestate.com.au, Fresha, DealerRater and hundreds of other review sites and marketplaces.
Where existing review aggregation platforms would run upwards of $200-400 per location, per month (punishing small businesses with a burning pocket), Cloutly saw an opportunity to build something better... and far more engaging.
With 81% of marketers agreeing video has helped them directly increase sales, Cloutly’s journey began as a bootstrapped “Hail Mary”. Our goal? To make it easy for businesses to close the loop on customer reviews, from automation, segmentation and personalisation with video; to become the fastest way to get your customers talking about you online.
On why this was such a backable team, Alex Retzlaff from Unify Ventures said “Lachlan demonstrated rapid commercial traction with recognised early customers and met my criteria of being much better than I ever was when walking in his shoes.”
Less than one year after launching our MVP, we’ve hit 6-figures in annual recurring revenue (ARR), onboarded over 150 paying businesses, including cornerstone customers like Swyftx, Swimart, Home Instead and Cake, and doubled down on our product, UX, marketing and sales efforts.
“Cloutly is able to directly impact the customer’s gross income, without requiring a significant investment of time or money from the customer” added Mr Retzlaff.
“There’s an abundance of differentiating product feature opportunities to deliver even greater customer value and carve a defensible position within the space.
“On the surface, it’s a crowded space with well-funded incumbents, however, we consistently see them ‘line extending’ in an attempt to capture the full value of delivering an end-to-end online customer communication experience, which in turn prevents them from becoming an exceptional product in the eyes of their customer.
“We, of course, see this as an advantage and a reason to stay focused.”
What’s next for Cloutly
It’s our mission to humanise the way businesses build trust with their customers. That starts with ‘the ask’. We believe that asking for reviews shouldn’t be boring and impersonal, which is why we’re bringing video to the forefront of our platform, helping you cut through inbox clutter and engage with your customers in a more meaningful, more memorable - and less transactional - way.
Best of all, we’re making it easy for your customers to return the favour, with a simple way to review you on the sites you choose, or directly record and submit a video testimonial in one, easy workflow.
This round of funding helps us bring together a lean, mean, super-team as we blast toward our ambitious revenue targets and accelerate the delivery of our product roadmap. With huge things in store, we’re extremely grateful and thankful to those who’ve backed us so far, excited to share this journey with you and even more pumped to bring Cloutly to a global market.