Aussie-founded blockchain email startup Sendy, which rewards people for engaging with marketing emails, has raised $500,000 in its initial coin offering (ICO) pre-sale.
The pre-sale has been led by two crypto funds, New Zealand based Techemy Capital and Australian Apollo Capital, in the lead up to Sendy’s public ICO, planned to open later this year.
Headquartered in Singapore, Sendy was founded last year by Aussies Josh Reyes and George Hartley — a pair familiar with the startup journey.
Hartley previously co-founded Bluethumb, an online art marketplace, alongside his brother Ed Hartley. He also co-founded SmartrMail, a personalised email marketing tool for e-commerce and graduate of the Startmate accelerator backed by Blackbird Ventures. At the latter, Reyes served as marketing coordinator.
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According to Hartley, Sendy is designed to solve a “twofold problem” in the way emails are used.
Because emails are free, there’s a lot of scope for spam — according to Hartley more than 50% of all emails are junk — and very little incentive for readers to click on content. This means interaction with legitimate marketing content is also reduced.
Sendy provides a decentralised email API, meaning companies can attach value, in the form of Sendy tokens, to their emails. It works on the concept that “your attention is valued”, Hartley says, and rewards customers for engaging with marketing content.
As well as the pre-ICO funding, the co-founders have also got some high-profile advisors on board in Horizon State founder Jamie Skella and, Dave Bean, head of sales at Earn.com, which was recently acquired by Coinbase for $US100 million.
“They’re two lovely guys, we’re lucky to have them,” Hartley says.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency is “such a new space,” he adds, so “having people who have done it before is really important”.
The Sendy platform is in beta-stages now, but Hartley says when it’s fully launched it will be platform-agnostic, able to plug into any browser and multiple email service providers, in a bid to help marketers get better engagement from their email campaigns and to reward email subscribers for their attention.
Even for people who are not crypto-savvy the system will be “super low-friction,” Hartley says, with users’ Sendy balance appearing at the bottom of the email.
As users read emails, their Sendy balance will “naturally go up”, he adds.
“All you need to do to redeem Sendy and start using it is click the link, and set up your wallet”, he says, stressing that setting up the wallet is far from an onerous process.
Email subscribers don’t have to be “across” cryptocurrency in order to use Sendy tokens.
“We’re hopeful that this could be a product that puts crypto more into the mainstream,” says Hartley.
Once users have acquired Sendy tokens, they can either trade it for other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, or for fiat currencies; use it to donate to charity; or simply use it to pay for things.
The token will have “real value”, Hartley says.
Sendy’s pre-sale funding will be directed primarily into marketing, and into further development of the platform. The team is working on creating a fully decentralised inbox, whereby users will have full control of their own data, although Hartley doesn’t reveal many details around this.
“We’ve done a couple of startups before and understand that development and marketing both need to be a really strong focus in getting out there,” he says.
The founders are also prioritising bringing more service partners on board.
“They’re the ones who are really going to spread Sendy to their networks,” Hartley says.
“Interaction rates are really important for our email service providers, and this helps that improve.”
For blockchain startups thinking of launching an ICO, Hartley advises getting “the best advisors you can” on board, and “don’t rush it,” he says.
“There’s a perception that it’s easy money,” he adds, “but you only have one reputation, and I think you really need to treat [the ICO process] the same as if you were raising from angels or VCs.”
When people back you, they’re investing money into your project, he says. And, there are more and more choices becoming available for crypto investment.
“Be serious about it,” Hartley concludes.
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