When HIGHLINE invested in Pressboard at the beginning of this year, we knew they were the right team to tackle a huge problem in the digital media and advertising space.
A “story marketplace” that connects brands to storytellers, Pressboard lets brands leverage influential publishers who can reach their target audiences through content rather than traditional ads. Pressboard’s dynamic online database can be searched for upcoming editorial stories from websites, online magazines and blogs, which have the potential to serve as sponsorship opportunities through the integration of the brand in the story copy.
The two-sided marketplace, which likens instead to “Cupid for brands and publishers,” has offices in both Vancouver and Toronto, but works with customers in both Canada and the US.
Market Opportunity & Timing
“I started Pressboard because I had been working in the digital publishing business, and as branded content was becoming more prominent, I felt there was a lot of progress that could be made in the efficiency and scale within the process through technology,” Pressboard’s Co-Founder & CEO Jerrid Grimm told us.
Increasingly, top brands and publishers are starting to work together to create stories instead of ads, whether that’s through sponsored content, native advertising, custom content, or branded content.
“There’s a perfect storm causing major challenges for brand marketing right now,” Jerrid explains. “Social media has changed the way people consume media. Mobile reduces the effectiveness and available real estate for ad units such as display, and simply put, people like stories a lot more than ads. Branding is about forming a relationship between consumer and company, and nothing does that better than storytelling.”
It’s one of biggest shifts in the $600 billion advertising market. Ever.
“The challenge is scale,” Jerrid says. “It’s currently way too labour and time intensive. Pressboard’s platform reduces time and costs to execute campaigns by over 90%.”
Meet the Team
Pressboard was co-founded by Jerrid, who spent 15 years in advertising and media and was most recently VP Client Service at Newad, and Tiam Korki, Pressboard’s CTO, who spent the last 15 years in software architecture, and previously founded Gauge Mobile.
“I invested in Tiam’s previous startup, Gauge Mobile, which was acquired by Toronto-based Juice Mobile in January 2014,” Jerrid explained. “Tiam, his business partner Tony and I spent three years building that business from the ground up. Tiam is a genius, and I knew I had found a potential technology partner for my own business some day.”
Jerrid and Tiam launched the company in April 2014 with just the two of them. Since then, they’ve hired two account managers and one software developer, and plan to hire two more employees in July.
Connecting the Dots
Our history with Jerrid dates back to GrowLab, which merged with Extreme Startups to become HIGHLINE last summer; prior to the merger, Jerrid was a mentor for GrowLab, and understands the value of the evolution from accelerator to pre-seed VC.
“HIGHLINE not only gives us access to our most important Canadian market — Toronto — but also to a host of mentors and successful entrepreneurs in the space that we can learn from,” he told us.
Signing Big Brands & Raising Capital
Since founding Pressboard in 2014, Grimm and Korki have paired over 25 brands with more than 50 publishers, generating about 40 million story reads/month. Most recently, on the publisher side, they signed Reader’s Digest, SeattleMag, Canadian Running, ParentsCanada, Metro News, and on the brand side, General Mills (Nature Valley), Honda, Tourism Whistler, and Nintendo.
For the most recent quarter, Pressboard increased revenue by 600% over the same quarter in 2014. They also recently raised a strategic round to grow their development team, details of which will be announced later this summer.
Pressboard in the Media
- The Pitch: Pressboard (BNN)
- Pressboard Introduces Pay-Per-Read Prices (Marketing Magazine)
- Pressboard is Building a Story Marketplace (BetaKit)
- Pressboard Opens Toronto Office (TechVibes)
- Pressboard Open Office in Toronto (Media in Canada)
- Native Ad Firm Pressboard Establishes Toronto Office (Marketing Magazine)
- Pressboard Emphasizes Readers With New Metric (Media in Canada)
- Pressboard Looks to Replicate Canadian Success in US (TechVibes)
- Pressboard to Connect Brands and Publishers (Media in Canada)
- Pressboard Ranks the Best of Content Partnerships (Marketing Magazine)
- Pressboard the Latest Platform to Connect Brands and Publishers (Marketing Magazine)
- Ad Platform Pressboard Allows Brands Looking to Sponsor Content to Connect with Publishers (TechVibes)
HIGHLINE posts about Pressboard