Saturday 24 February 2018

Cleverbug lines up €4.5m fund for expansion

Greetings: Kealan Lennon
Greetings: Kealan Lennon

Roisin Burke

Cleverbug, the personalised greeting card company, is near to closing new finance of €4.5m to drive its ambitious expansion into the social gifting market.

Early investors Delta Partners and several Irish and international high net worth angel backers are behind this latest round for the company founded by publishing and technology entrepreneur Kealan Lennon.

This latest tranche brings the company's funding to date to over €6m.

Dublin-based Delta, which backs gaming company Swrve and a range of tech and med-tech companies, secured Cleverbug's initial finance of €1.85m two years ago.

Lennon has a background in corporate finance and acquisitions, including the buying of schoolbooks publisher CJ Fallon along with other investors in 2006.

Having taken on the greeting card industry giants Hallmark and American Greetings with a bespoke print and online greeting card business that recently relaunched as CleverCards, Lennon now wants to build the largest social gifting business out there.

The company has developed a unique proprietary technology that Lennon says gives it a show-stealing market advantage. The 'gifting graph' maps the close relationships that are important to users and important dates in the lives of their nearest and dearest.

"The Cleverbook is a book of the closest people in your life and their significant event dates – anniversaries, weddings, graduations, defined with deadly accurate algorithms," Lennon explains.

Email and other push reminders then prompt users, suggesting photos and designs to send a bespoke printed or online card to their loved ones.

The social gifting side of the business is being planned for launch within a year, with infrastructure already in place to produce personalised iPhone cases and canvas prints.

The company focuses intensely on relationship building with its customers. For every 1,000 downloads of the CleverCards app, there are 470 spends on a card, and a retention rate of further spend of 50 per cent.

On the Net Promoter score used to gauge customers' views of digital businesses, Cleverbug scores 63, a close benchmark with Amazon's score of 67, according to Lennon.

The development and design part of the business is based in Dublin and there's an office in Silicon Valley. Staff numbers of 25 are expected to double in coming months.

Sunday Independent

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