Digital video platform Inspo Network announced today that it had raised a $5.5 million seed round, lead by Pioneer Square Labs. Expedia, Zillow and Glassdoor co-founder Rich Barton, Second Avenue Partners co-founder Nick Hanauer, and Maveron co-founder Dan Levitan also participated.
Inspo Network provides a platform for influencers to create short-form videos in the home, fitness and DIY categories and helps integrate advertisers’ products into their videos. The company also provides a marketplace where video influencers can shop their talents — and access to their audiences — to brands.
The Seattle company’s founders are Heather Christothoulou, who runs a popular allergy-free recipe website, and her husband Pete Christothoulou, who co-founded mobile ad analytics startup Marchex in 2003. (Marchex went public in 2004, Christothoulou left in 2016.) The couple founded Inspo Network based on her frustrations with connecting with brands, and his experience in the advertising industry.
“The future of media looks like thousands of category-expert creators inspiring hundreds of millions of engaged fans through visual experiences available anywhere,” Mr. Christothoulou — who serves as Inspo Network’s CEO — said in a statement. “Solving core problems for Creators and brands is critical to making this future a reality.”
The time is ripe for a formalization of the relationships between video producers and the brands who fund them. Forbes reported last October that US businesses were expected to spend $135 billion on digital video in 2017, compared with $83 billion on digital advertising and $71 billion on television.
Investor Rich Barton said he saw the “next generation” of media production in Inspo Network.
“Inspo makes it easy to deliver personalized, hyper-targeted video content to hundreds of millions of engaged fans,” he said in the statement. “By bringing ‘power to the people’ in this massive category, Inspo is reimagining the media value chain and challenging traditional studio-based models.”
Inspo Network will use this injection of funds to build out their product and expand their team. The company has also added three new members to its board of directors: Pioneer Square Labs co-founder Mike Galgon, former GroupM chief digital officer Rob Norman and former Razorfish CEO Clark Kokich.