Tracksuit raises $5M to make brand tracking more accessible
Tracksuit, a New Zealand-based brand tracking startup, wants to take on traditional market research players by offering a more affordable, accessible brand insights tool.
“Market research and brand tracking has been around for a long time, and it usually consists of a consultant coming in on a quarterly or biannual basis with a 100-page slide deck and a lot of complex data that looks behind not forward,” Matt Herbert, co-founder and co-CEO of Tracksuit, told TechCrunch, noting that most market research services have been reserved for enterprise-level companies, leaving smaller and mid-sized companies with less access to such insights.
“With Tracksuit, we wanted to make an affordable, always-on, easy-to-use way of accessing these insights.”
Tracksuit launched in 2021 with an intuitive dashboard that tracks metrics like brand awareness, consideration, preference and usage, and measures them against a company’s competitive set. It’s a software-as-a-service product with a flat fee that Herbert says is 10x cheaper than the current standard.
Tracksuit’s tool now tracks insights for more than 1,300 brands across New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and, most recently, the United States. The company recently closed $5 million in its first external round, and will use the money to expand further into the U.S. market. Tracksuit made its first hire in New York City in November, and is building a 10-person team there to support expansion.
The round, led by Blackbird, also included participation from Shasta Ventures, Icehouse Ventures, Ascential and brand consultant Mark Ritson.
“Strong brands are the difference between good companies and great companies – whether they’re selling physical products or software,” said Phoebe Harrop, a partner at Blackbird, in a statement. “The magic of Tracksuit is giving companies across every industry a common language for measuring, talking about and investing in brand health.”
“A common language.” That’s what Herbert told TechCrunch Tracksuit is trying to achieve — a standard for evaluating, understanding and communicating the value of brands.
The startup is targeting mid-sized, growing consumer brands across food and beverage, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), retail, direct-to-consumer and financial services. Herbert said half of its customers come from the existing brand tracking market, but the other half is a new segment entirely that has previously not been served by the market research industry. Some key customers today include Made by Nacho, Charity: Water and Athletic Brewing Company.
Herbert says the strong demand for the company’s product suggests a shift in how consumer businesses approach marketing. They’re focused “less on immediate conversion and more on building long-term growth through highly effective, creative marketing,” he said.
Tracksuit gathers insights by surveying target customers around the globe. It uses those surveys to set up a brand’s fundamentals: What’s the total addressable market? How well is the brand known, how well is it considered, where is it most preferred? What do people really think and feel about the brand, and how does that shift over time?
From there, Tracksuit goes deeper.
“Each brand will have strategic pillars or value propositions that they want to own, so we help those brands track how well they are performing against those brand pillars and how well their comms and advertising and marketing is shifting the needle on those perceptions and attributes for the consumer,” said Herbert, as he showed me a demo of Tracksuit’s “unprompted imagery” feature, a word cloud that shows which words come to mind for a specific brand, positioned next to a similar word cloud for that brand’s biggest competitor.
All of these insights help brands ask the big question of What’s the job to be done? It’s hard to sell to someone who hasn’t heard of your brand, so maybe Tracksuit’s insights could help a brand learn that it has to increase awareness before anything else.
“What is the opportunity to grow and where should that be focused in your advertising, communications and marketing strategy?” said Herbert.
Just 7 days until the TC Early Stage early bird flies away
Budget-minded entrepreneurs and early-stage startup founders take heed — this is no time to procrastinate. We have only 7 days left of early-bird pricing to TechCrunch Early Stage 2023 in Boston on April 20.
Don’t wait…the early bird gets the…SAVINGS: Buy a $249 founder pass and save $200 before prices increase on April 1 — that’s no joke.
TC Early Stage is our only event where you get hands-on training with experts to help your business succeed. No need to reinvent the startup wheel — you’ll have access to leading experts across a range of specialties.
During this one-day startup bootcamp, you’ll learn about legal issues, fundraising, marketing, growth, product-market fit, pitching, recruiting and more. We’re talking more than 40 highly engaging presentations, workshops and roundtables with interactive Q&As and plenty of time for networking.
Here are just a few examples of the topics we have on tap. You’ll find plenty more listed in the event agenda.
How to Tell Your TAM: Dayna Grayson from Construct Capital invests in the rebuilding of the most foundational and broken industries of our economy. Industries such as manufacturing and logistics, among others, that formed in an analog world have been neglected by advanced technology. Dayna will talk about how, beyond the idea, founders can pitch investors on their TAM, including how they will wedge into the market and how they will eventually disrupt it.
How to Think About Accelerators and Incubators: Founders often hear they should get involved with an incubator or accelerator, but when is the “right” time for early-stage founders to apply to these types of startup support ecosystems, and how can they best engage if accepted? In this talk, Harvard Innovation Labs executive director Matt Segneri will cover everything from the types of incubators and accelerators available to early-stage founders, to what startups should consider before applying, and tips for getting the most out of these ecosystems.
How to Raise Outside of SV in a Down Market: Silicon Valley’s funding market tends to be more immune to macroeconomic conditions than elsewhere in the world. So how do you raise outside the Valley bubble? General Catalyst’s Mark Crane has ample experience on both the founder and VC side from all over Europe, as well as a firm understanding of the funding landscape in the northeastern U.S., so he’ll give practical advice on how to stay alive and thrive.
At TechCrunch Early Stage you’ll walk away with a deeper working understanding of topics and skills that are essential to startup success. Founders save $200 with an early-bird founder ticket — college students pay just $99!
Twitter will kill ‘legacy’ blue checks on April 1
Twitter has picked April Fool’s Day, otherwise known as April 1, to start removing legacy blue checkmarks from the platform.
Despite the significance of the day Twitter chose, the removal of legacy checkmarks has been anticipated for months now. Musk tweeted in December that the company would remove those checks “in a few months” because “the way in which they were given out was corrupt and nonsensical.”
Since then, legacy blue checkmark holders have been seeing a pop-up when they click on their checkmark that reads, “This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.”
Before Musk acquired the company, Twitter used checkmarks to verify individuals and entities as active, authentic and notable accounts of interest. Verified checkmarks were doled out for free.
Today, Twitter users can purchase a blue check through the Twitter Blue subscription model for $8 per month (iOS and Android signups will cost $11 per month, due to app store costs). There are also other checkmark colors and badges available for purchase to denote whether an account is a business or a government, for example.
Twitter says the purchase of a checkmark gives users access to subscriber-only features like fewer ads on their timeline, prioritized ranking in conversations, bookmark folders, and the ability to craft long tweets, edit tweets and undo tweets.
The news comes within hours of Twitter also announcing the availability of the Blue subscription globally.
Twitter did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for more information about how many users have already signed up for Twitter Blue.
Roofstock, valued at $1.9B last year, cuts 27% of staff in second round of layoffs
Proptech company Roofstock has laid off about 27% of its staff today, according to an email sent to employees viewed by TechCrunch. The cuts come just five months after the startup laid off 20% of its workforce.
The company’s website states that it has 400+ employees, or “Roofsters” as they’re dubbed, but it is not known if that figure is current.
Roofstock, an online marketplace for investing in leased single-family rental homes, one year ago raised $240 million at a $1.9 billion valuation. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led that financing, which included participation from existing and new backers including Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Bain Capital Ventures and others. Roofstock has raised a total of over $365 million in funding since its 2015 inception, per Crunchbase.
According to the email seen by TechCrunch, co-founder and CEO Gary Beasley said today’s reduction in force (RIF) was “in response to the challenging macro environment” and the “negative impact” it is having on Roofstock’s business.
He added that the company was not expecting to have to cut more staff so soon but that it needed to “right size” in an effort “to reduce cash burn rate” and ensure it has “adequate capital runway until the market eventually turns.”
Beasley sent the email because apparently, the Zoom meeting where it was addressed “maxed out on attendees.”
Oakland, Calif.-based Roofstock lets people buy and sell rental homes in dozens of U.S. markets. The premise behind the company is that both institutional and retail investors can buy and sell homes without forcing renters to leave their homes. Meanwhile, buyers can also presumably generate income from day one.
At the time of its raise in March 2022, the company said that it had facilitated more than $5 billion in transaction volume, more than half of which had come from the last year alone.
Just days before its last round of layoffs last year, Roofstock made headlines for selling its first single-family home using NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.
Rising mortgage rates and a slowdown in the housing market led to challenges for many real estate technology companies in 2022 that continue this year. Opendoor, Redfin, Compass, Better.com and Homeward were among the other startups that also laid off workers. IBuyer Reali also announced it was shutting down after raising $100 million the year prior.
TechCrunch has reached out to Roofstock but had not heard back at the time of writing but multiple sources confirmed that layoffs had taken place today.
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