Austin startup eRelevance has raised $4.5 million to ramp up sales of its software, which helps small businesses automate their marketing.
Rally Ventures, based in Silicon Valley, was the lead investor, with participation from Chicago Ventures, Miramar Venture Partners, Rothenberg Ventures and previous angel investors.
The company, founded by Austin entrepreneur Bob Fabbio, previously raised $4.1 million in seed capital.
Launched in 2013, eRelevance sells a software service that helps small and medium businesses interact with customers through e-mail, text messaging and the web. Businesses can send targeted special offers to clients and track the results.
The company is initially targeting small health care offices, such as specialized medical practices and medical spas.
Fabbio said these businesses struggle with reaching customers because marketing consultants are often too expensive and automated software systems are too complex.
"These people are office managers, nurses and estheticians, they're not marketing experts, and they're frustrated with the software they have to use," Fabbio said. "We've come in as a very affordable alternative and take their internal marketing over for them."
If, for example, a medical spa wants to offer a Botox special to customers over age 45, eRelevance determines which customers to target and runs a campaign that can include email, text messaging, Facebook ads and other online methods to reach them.
The service costs $600 to $900 for a monthly subscription with a long-term contract, Fabbio said.
So far, the company has signed on 275 customers across the country, he said.
In addition to selling to medical offices, eRelevance has partnered medical device makers, who package eRelevance's service with their equipment.
"The biggest challenge these device vendors have is when a doctor says, 'I just spent a fortune on a new laser device, how are you going to help me get my money back quickly?' All they have to offer are brochures and posters for the wall," Fabbio said. "Now they can offer an affordable marketing service."
The company has 18 employees and plans to reach 35 by the end of the year, Fabbio said.