“We had originally done price comparisons” exclusively, said Jamie Thompson, founder and CEO of the company. “But unless you’re selling the end product, it’s tough making money.”
Then, Thompson and fellow Pongr pros Neal Checka and Zach Cox teamed in late 2009 with men’s mag GQ, published by Condé Nast. As Thompson succinctly put it, “they were in need of better engagement technology.” And, as it turns out, so are many traditional media companies.
Now, after more than a year in its new business model, Thompson said, Pongr is looking to take on new institutional and angel investors as it seeks to raise under $3 million in its Series B round. The company has completed only one round from an angel investor and also has a convertible noteholder, Thompson said.
Following their successful GQ experiment, Thompson, Checka and Cox dumped the price comparison business and began to take roots in traditional media companies that needed their platform. It wasn’t long before Pongr took a new direction.
By mid-2010, the mobile media team joined with W Magazine as well, developing a $1,000 contest for readers who would see W ads and products, then snap a photo, and send it to Pongr, which tracked results and reported back to its partner. The result? Brand engagement by traditional media on a wholly mobile level. And it’s caught on.
Pongr counts among its more recent clients media company Hearst, Dunkin’ Donuts and automaker Ford, as well as advertising titans like Publicis Groupe and Interpublic. Thompson and company have also developed an image recognition tool that adapts television commercials into direct-response mobile messages.