San Antonio-based Sendspark, a startup launching a new kind of video outreach platform, announced Tuesday it closed a $300,000 pre-seed funding round led by Active Capital.
Serial entrepreneur Pat Matthews founded Active Capital, a San Antonio-headquartered venture firm that invests in early-stage business to business (B2B) software as a service (SaaS) companies across the U.S. Other participants in the investment included entrepreneurial fellowship program Venture for America.
Sendspark is a video outreach platform for businesses to record and send personalized videos via email to buyers. Users can use the Sendspark platform to record videos from a browser, customize video landing pages, share videos either through email or a public URL, and track analytics.
Sendspark founders Brandon Escalante and Bethany Stachenfeld are San Antonio transplants. They met each other and Matthews while working for Filestack, a San Antonio developer service for file uploading of user-created content. Stachenfeld worked in marketing while Escalante focused on design and product.
After Escalante and Stachenfeld left Filestack, they worked in Minnesota at the TechStars Cloud graduate VidGrid throughout 2018. The founders decided to return to San Antonio, launching Sendspark in January of this year to help businesses engage with customers using video.
“We both love tech and possess the drive to create a transformative company, Escalante said. “We’ve been watching the rise of video in the consumer space and knew we needed to capture that in a new venture.”
Over half of customers report engaging with a brand after viewing a video, according to a 2018 marketing survey, with 45% who see a video with a call to action stating it was helpful.
“We know sending generic emails isn’t working anymore for people looking to engage with the consumer,” Stachenfeld said. “Sending a short video message preview in an email is a new and personal way to connect with your customers.”
People now record videos using an app, upload the sound file to YouTube, add graphics, then share it using a YouTube link. That process not only takes time, “you’re directing your customers to YouTube and lose the customer in that process,” Escalante said.
“Using our platform, you can easily record the video from your browser, set your logo and colors, and personalize your thumbnail preview,” Escalante said. “Sendspark then quickly generates the package complete with tracking analytics.”
Sendspark plans more features as it scales up
The founders decided to return to San Antonio to work with SaaS startups in the portfolio of venture equity fund Scaleworks they knew from their Filestack days. In the platform’s early beta testing phase, they worked with Scalework companies Mailgun, Chargify, Keen, as well as the cybersecurity-focused Jungle Disk to refine the product.
“Sendspark is a welcomed addition to the way Jungle Disk communicates with its customers,” said John Garza, Jungle Disk director of global sales. “Using video messages allows us to be personal, authentic, and build connections quickly.”
That early iterative process informed Sendspark’s refinements in simplifying the workflow for a streamlined user experience.
“It now only takes a few minutes to create your first video and generate a landing page complete with your call to action,” Stachenfeld said.
Stachenfeld and Escalante also decided moving closer to Pat Matthews and Active Capital meant easier access to the seasoned entrepreneur.
“Video is clearly a fast-growing form of media, and when the two of them set out to build Sendspark, we wanted to be a part of it,” Matthews said. “I like companies that take a horizontal technology and purpose-build a product for a specific vertical.”
The startup has 120 users. Plans for the funding include building the sales and customer success programs as well as ramping up product development. The company of two uses a remote developer now and is looking to hire a local senior software developer and customer success manager.
In the short term, Sendspark is looking to secure more funding, this time equity-free. The startup is a finalist in the TechBloc pitch competition Tech Fuel scheduled for October 22.
“If we win it, it will be game-changing for us,” Escalante said. “That’s almost enough to pay the salary for someone for an entire year.”
Longer-range plans include building upon the customer experience by adding new features, as well as securing new partnerships. The team is already working on incorporating more ways for clients to engage with a customer base using the Sendspark platform.
“We want to handle what goes into the connection with a potential customer because it’s more than sending videos — it’s about receiving them as well,” Stachenfeld said. “We’re fully exploring how using video will spark a meaningful connection.”
Featured image is of SendSpark founders from left Bethany Stachenfeld and Brandon Escalante, courtesy photo.