Just a few days after the fashion-tech startup Stylitics scored an investment from NPD Group, the sales shopping tool Hukkster has closed $1.5 million in venture capital funding, BuzzFeed first reported Wednesday. If you aren't familiar with Hukkster yet, you're probably going to be seeing more of its name. With this infusion of cash, the startup is upping its digital advertising game to grow its user base.
The investors in the latest round include Rowland Moriarty and Martin Trust -- current and former Staples board members, respectively -- Manhattan Mini Storage's Archie Gottesman and Kris and Tushara Canekeratne of the IT firm Virtusa. Along with the cash, Hukkster's new investors are bringing experience in growing companies from an early stage to enterprise, as well as go-to-market strategy.
Having launched in 2012, Hukkster previously raised $3 million in seed funding while building out its product, a bookmarklet that lets online shoppers sign up for sales alerts on products they like from retailers like J.Crew and Net-a-Porter. Because users opt in to these notifications on an item by item basis, Hukkster's email alerts have an abnormally high click-through rate, about 75 percent, says co-founder Erica Bell.
Shoppers are clearly responding to Hukkster, despite the fact that the startup hasn't invested much in user acquisition up to this point. Most of their growth has come from organic press and PR, Bell says, and the team has only recently tapped into paid channels for advertising (Facebook, for instance, does well for them). Tech products are constantly iterating -- especially in the first few years after launch -- and now that Hukkster's infrastructure is well in place, it will be going much deeper into advertising its own product to bring in new users.
Hukkster also has the potential to be a good e-mail marketing ally for retailers, since its open rates are significantly higher than most merchants' mass e-mails, no matter how targeted they are. Hukkster supports over 250 retailers at the moment.
In the past, Hukkster has been known to run exclusive discounts or promote certain product categories for a retailer, and it built custom e-mail templates for Joie, Rebecca Minkoff and Ann Taylor in the fourth quarter of 2013. Hukkster isn't planning to create custom marketing campaigns for all of its partners, Bell says, but that's one area that will evolve over time.
Although Hukkster launched during the hottest years of flash sales sites, it captures what Finnegan calls "a different moment in the purchase funnel." While Gilt Groupe encourages shoppers to spring on a deal they didn't even know they wanted, Hukkster is more of a support tool for the daily rhythm of online shopping. As Finnegan points out, Hukkster is a "constant hunt," which is a pretty good descriptor for the nature of online shopping itself.