Improvado Raises $3M Funding Round To Blaze A Trail In Middleware Tech

Trigger warning: This article contains references to yet another three-letter acronym in the advertising technology ecosystem.

Improvado is an extract, transform, load (ETL) data startup focused on the agency and advertiser landscape.

The company raised a $3 million seed round with backing from a range of familiar ad tech names, including Auren Hoffman, the CEO and founder of SafeGraph and former CEO of LiveRamp; Omar Tawakol, the CEO and founder of Voicera and former CEO of BlueKai; and the CEOs of MediaMath, PubMatic, Arbor, Amobee, Turn, AdRoll and Shopkick.

ETL is middleware technology for data warehousing that is usually overseen by engineers who pull and rationalize data from different sources. Incumbent players include MuleSoft, which was acquired last month by Salesforce, Domo and Alooma.

The opportunity for Improvado, according to founder and CEO Daniel Kravtsov, is to bring middleware technology to marketers who have little to no technical capabilities but are deluged with data sources for a given campaign, including Google Analytics, AdWords, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, other mar tech vendors and maybe a customer data platform.

One of the biggest trends in the advertising industry is “the explosion of vendors everyone is using,” said SafeGraph’s Hoffman, an angel investor with the startup since last year.

For agencies in particular, it can be hard to cordon data from so many different sources, especially niche technology for location data, customer data and media reporting, Hoffman said. Vendors in those spaces are still proliferating.

Improvado has 60 clients and revenue of $1 million per year, Kravtsov said. The company started with agencies, which account for about 80% of revenue, though brands’ in-house digital advertising and reporting capabilities are growing faster and could account for more than half of its business by next year.

Improvado’s strategic ad tech “investorpreneurs” provide strategic value as the startup looks to gain ground in the space.

For example, Improvado is working on landing “preferred partner” status with LiveRamp, Aside from Hoffman, LiveRamp’s former CEO, Improvado has LiveRamp inroads through angel investors Rick Erwin, who is president of Acxiom, LiveRamp’s parent company, and David Yaffe, CEO of Arbor, which LiveRamp acquired in 2016.

LiveRamp is a potentially powerful business hub for Improvado because LiveRamp customers “tend to have heavy investment in data, and it’s a strong sign that they use a lot of channels for advertising and marketing,” Kravtsov said.

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