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Q&A with HYP3R following $17m Series A funding

This week, we picked HYP3R (pronounced “hyper”) as our martech company of the week. They are a location-based marketing tool—but not just any. They have multiple patents, use geofences around properties to locate potential and current customers, came out of Saleforce’s Accelerate Program, and were named a Most Innovative Company in 2018 by Fast Company.

And to top it all off, today they announced $17M Series A funding to continue radically improving location-based marketing programs for brands in travel, retail, and entertainment.

We sat down this afternoon with Carlos Garcia, HYP3R’s CEO and Cofounder, for a quick Q&A.

ClickZ: Tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up cofounding HYP3R?

Carlos Garcia: So this is actually my third company, I had two exits prior to this. This will probably be the biggest. Our first company [Scrapblog], we grew to about 3.5 million users. We were one of the first apps on FaceBook, and we became really good growth hackers. In our second company [Nobox], we became really good at applying that knowledge to enterprise, to global brands like Netflix, Samsung, and even Marriott International, who’s currently one of our partners here at HYP3R.

And now in this third company we’ve kind of come full circle, where now we are applying a lot of the learning we’ve had toward building a platform that helps enterprise businesses be more efficient with their marketing. And hopefully create marketing that is actually welcome. We are very focused on building this location-based marketing cloud that we think is quickly becoming the category leader.

CZ: And you focus specifically on travel and retail?

CG: Yes, that’s our main focus. Those are the two primary verticals that we’re going after. When you think about it, those two are multi-trillion dollar industries that have been disrupted. We also have amazing partners in fitness.

CZ: I know HYP3R is a location-based marketing platform. Can you tell me in more straightforward terms what your company does?

CG: Our key innovation—the way we think about it—is that location is the next frontier in marketing cloud. Up until now, companies that use location as part of their marketing have used it in very primitive ways, like serving ads to a person who’s passing by Chipotle, saying “hey, do you want a burrito?” That may be completely out of context and completely out of timing, even though it’s supposed to be in real-time.

We started by asking, “can we understand what people are doing on location?” We started working with Marriott to build these geofences for their hotels. So we can tell them “these are the people on this location and this is what they’re posting publicly on social media about.” A lot of this is stuff that is based not on hashtags or mentions. It’s stuff that our clients were missing. They didn’t know all this activity was happening on location. We give them a better understanding of who these people are, what their experience is, and what they’re sharing.

CZ: So it’s a geosensor? How does the underlying technology work?

CG: Basically, we create digital perimeters around a property. Very accurate polygons—not just a radius. So we can really focus on what’s going on there. When we started, it was just social media aggregation on location, but now we look at many more signals. Those signals can be mobile device IDs that are anonymous, or they can be first-party data. For example when members of a gym swipe in, we know they’re there.

Our focus on location has made us so much better at what we do and more valuable toward clients. There are other platforms that listen to social media, and location could be a component of that. There are other platforms that serve ads on location. But our focus is, how do we deliver as many customers from location as we can? How do we help these companies acquire customers more efficiently, and then engage them in delightful ways?

Our mission of the company, since day one, has been to make marketing efficient for the business and delightful for consumers. That has been our guiding light as we build the company. How do we make sure that we’re welcome by consumers? We live in a world where interruption is almost abusive on the consumer. We want to help marketers align better with the aspirations of their customers. We want to be delighted—it’s part of being human.

CZ: So your platform has this geosensor and detects customers in the vicinity. Does it also send ads?

CG: We are not an adtech platform. But we actually integrate with other platforms, and our part captures all these signals from customers on location. We actually work with almost every major hotel in the world, around 300,000 of them use our platform.

So we don’t actually run the campaigns through HYP3R. We use anonymous signals to help them reach the right people, and that increases their marketing efficiency substantially. In many cases we’ve been able to double marketing efficiency, or in other words lower the costs to half.

We also help them acquire the highest value customers—the ones that are most relevant. And in the process of doing that, we see that by eliminating media waste and targeting people in a more relevant way, that is better marketing. All of a sudden, you’re no longer targeting me with something that I do not care about. HYP3R helps them engage those customers on location.

HYP3R has two primary components to the platform. HYP3R Acquire and HYP3R Engage. There’s a handoff from one to the other. You acquire customers that are in your location, and then you engage them.

CZ: Other than location, what kind of data around the customer are you able to provide?

CG: So that’s where we integrate with other platforms—for instance ones that provide first-party data.

We came out of Salesforce Accelerate, so SalesForce is a big partner of ours. And the way we think of that integration is that we bring the context of location to Salesforce Cloud. We also integrate with Adobe, and help enable better marketing there.

Our goal is not to replicate marketing happening in those platforms, our goal is to supplement it.

CZ: What other competitors are in your space?

CG: I’d say there are a lot of companies in location-based marketing that have portions of what HYP3R does. There are companies that basically deliver ads on location—but that’s ad delivery, and we actually integrate with other platforms that do that part.

We don’t really think of social media management platforms as competitors. In most cases, we coexist. Our goal is not to manage the social media workflow. Our goal is to deliver customers on location, and help our clients engage those customers. And that has more ROI for our clients than just social media management.

CZ: Can you give me an example of a use case, perhaps for Marriott?

CG: Basically what they do is surprise and delight customers based on location. And that’s very aligned with the DNA of the hospitality industry. They want to elevate customer experience. So if you have someone at the hotel who’s celebrating a birthday, Marriott can go out of their way to engage that customer and elevate their experience. Never promote—not say “here’s 10% off your next stay”—that’s not delightful. They would say “hey, we want to celebrate with you.” Customer experience over sales.

Our clients truly understand that the best marketing is a friend’s recommendation. The CMOs that have become the champions of HYP3R insights—like people from Marriott or Norwegian cruise lines—they truly understand that your customers have a unique power to lead others your way.

CZ: What goals do you have for this new funding?

CG: Obviously we’ll continue to innovate. That’s a big part of what HYP3R has grown up on until now. My personal thought is that a company that stops innovating stops creating value for customers.

On the technology side, you’ll continue to see HYP3R filing patents and truly materializing that promise of making marketing efficient for the company and delightful for the consumer.

And then on the commercial side, we’ve been somewhat under the radar. It’s kind of a contradiction—we were named one of the most innovative companies by Fast Company, but most companies don’t know about us. So we will change that. This is our time to go out there. Personally it’s not something I like to do. But you’ll see us at conferences. We came out of Salesforce, and one of our main clients, Marriott, is going to be the keynote at Dreamforce.

We will become the category leader in location based marketing cloud. That’s our bet. We know that bridging digital and physical is something that’s been elusive for marketers until now. Everyone talks about it, but no one really knows how to do it right. We’re doing it right.

Employees: 51-100

Customers include: Marriott International, Brookfield Properties, Pepsi, The Golden State Warriors.

Year founded: 2015

Funding status: Early stage venture

Last funding type: Series A

Total funding: $23.8m

Rounds of funding: 5

Headquarters: San Francisco

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