Boston-based ViralGains announced today that it has raised $2.8 million of what it expects to be a $3.3 million seed round of funding.
The investment round, which has been “running” since last spring according to co-founder and chief executive Jay Singh, features 45 investors, including several funds, and should be completed with another high-profile pair expected to help wrap up the round soon.
Not that there aren’t any well-known investors (and figures) involved already. With Hub Angels leading the round, the seed investment thus far includes 500 Startups’ Dave McClure, Chicago-based Pallasite Ventures, Boston’s Launch Capital, Ty Danco of BuysideFX, angel investor Joe Caruso, Acquia co-founder Jay Batson, and Boston Techstars’ Semyon Dukach, as well as rapper Nas.
Launched in 2012, the company aims to leverage the concept of “virality” to target video content as part of marketing and ad campaigns for businesses. Currently, ViralGains customers include Exxon, Nestlé, Showtime, Lexus, and State Farm.
As Singh explained about the vision on which the company was founded, “When we were looking at what viral is, there are certain people who are more influential. You can target people who are more influential and serve them content that they are interested in. They will respond to it, and they will share that content.”
There is an element of data science to ViralGains products, including a recommendation engine that brings the right video to right person at right time, Singh said.
“Advertisers are really excited about viral video,” he explained. “Viral video as a product that they can access hasn’t been possible to them. So viral video as market strategy for marketers is really exciting.”
After taking part in MassChallenge in 2013, the company headed west to take part in McClure’s 500 Startups program.
However, unlike many East Coast companies that have taken part in 500 Startups and choose to stay in Silicon Valley, ViralGains returned to build the company in Boston.
“The 500 Startups experience was great, and I think we brought a West Coast vibe back with us,” said Singh.
“But we’re going to open up in other markets (New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles) where there is a lot of advertising business,” Singh said. “And we’ll putting a couple of boots on the ground … but are headquarters will be Boston.”
As for ViralGains future, Singh commented that unlike other traditional media platforms which can make people feel bad (ie., news media, some forms of social media), most viral video that gets shared on the Web are positive and makes people feel good. “We think viral video is going to have a positive impact on the world,” Singh said. “I think that viral video and viral marketing will be as big as social media several years ago.”