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Gold Coast Startup Cloutly Lands $500,000 Pre-Seed To Help Small Businesses Bolster Their Reputations

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Gold Coast startup Cloutly has raised a $500,000 in pre-Seed funding for its reputation tech solution for the small-to-medium business (SMB) market.

The round was led by Unify Ventures, with participation from Palm Beach Ventures (PBV), amid a cast of new investors and advisors that includes Mike van der Heijden (Portal Ventures), Jason Atkins (Cake Equity, PBV), George Hartley (Bluethumb, Smartrmail) and Chad Stephens (1Form, Fillr).

The cash is earmarked to build Cloudly’s remote-first team and accelerate the delivery of its product roadmap – a more ‘human’ reviews experience for businesses and their customers.

CEO and co-founder Lachlan Fea said they didn’t set out to build a reviews platform when Cloutly launched.

“It happened by osmosis. Our clients wanted a reliable way to get more online reviews, anywhere, without being locked into big contracts,” he said.

“What stood out was that across multiple verticals, businesses were frustrated by the same problem: there were dozens of review sites out there, but nothing that could bring them all together and put the business back in the control of their reputation.”

Cloutly took on a life of its own in late 2019, after internal use for clients at Fea’s prior business, a digital marketing agency, delivered repeated success stories.

Fea said existing enterprise-level tools took a transactional approach to review requests – sending out generic NPS messaging after a purchase, at a cost most SMBs can’t afford.

His cofounder, Joshua Heslin, said they wanted to find a way getting customer feedback more personal and affordable.

“We saw an opportunity to turn the idea of transactional review requests on its head; to build a more personalised, engaging way to ask for feedback, testimonials and user-generated content (UGC) that authentically connects businesses and their customers,” he said.

Cloutly allows businesses to segment their customers and ask for online reviews using personalised, automated video campaigns.  Fea said the existing options only deliver a 7% response rate while pestering customers with a pro forma request.

“Your customers don’t all share the same, cookie-cutter experience with your business, so why would you send them all the same, cookie-cutter review request?” he said.

Less than one year after launching their MVP, Cloutly’ – it’s just the two of them – has hit six figures in annual recurring revenue (ARR) and onboarded more than 150 paying businesses, including Swyftx, Swimart, Home Instead and Cake.

Alex Retzlaff from Unify Ventures said the duo had demonstrated rapid commercial traction.

“Cloutly is able to directly impact the customer’s gross income, without requiring a significant investment of time or money from the customer,” he said.

“There’s an abundance of differentiating product feature opportunities to deliver even greater customer value and carve a defensible position within the space.”

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