Wanderful Media, owner of Find&Save, secures $14.5 in additional funding from its newspaper investors
New round of funding brings the total funding to $50+ million for the Los Gatos, California based online and mobile shopping start-up
The shopping web and app company Wanderful Media, which operates Find&Save, announced today that it had received $14.5 million in new funding from its existing backers, a collection of newspaper companies that have backed online classified efforts such as cars.com and CareerBuilder. The new round of funding brings total investment in the company to over $50 million since the company’s originally launched in 2012.
Wanderful Media, which recently opened a new development and operations office in Chico, California, is backed by Advance Digital, A. H. Belo Corporation, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., Cox Media Group, The E. W. Scripps Company, Gannett Co., Inc., GateHouse Media, Inc., Graham Holdings Co., Hearst Corporation, Lee Enterprises, MediaNews Group and The McClatchy Company.
Find&Save is an online and app based shopping experience that combines the advertising from newspaper circulars with aggregated content found elsewhere on the web. The company’s iOS and Android apps then use geolocation services to inform users of discounts and other offerings available to them when they are out shopping. Online and in-app, readers can browse digital circulars, providing newspapers with a retail equivalent to their digital classified efforts.
“Retail advertising business has always been important to the newspaper business,” Ben T. Smith IV, CEO of Wanderful Media, told TNM. “It is not, however, one of the businesses that has experienced the collapse that the car business, real estate, a lot of the classified business has experienced.”
Before launching Wanderful Media, Smith spoke with leadership at Hearst and Gannett about the need for a digital solution for retail advertising similar to what the newspapers were supporting for classified categories such as autos and recruitment, but didn’t see a web-only solution as working.
“My perspective was that if it could have been done not he web it would have already been done on the web. The web is not a significantly better experience for looking at this content looking at printed circulars,” Smith said. “We did a focus group where we gave people choices to look at this content of a website or looking at a printed circular and they preferred the printed circular.”
The solution, Smith believed, lay in the new mobile platforms.
“But I felt that at the same time you have to create a new shopping audience that the media business owns, because your control of this printed shopping audience is declining over time – and that mobile phones really did offer you and opportunity to create a new kind of audience where you could do something that was fundamentally better for them – where you could bring in content that they may have seen in the circular or some other kind of shopping content directly to them based on where they were at, at a relevant time and a relevant place,” Smith said.
Wanderful Media first launched its website for Find&Save, then launched its first iOS app on Black Friday of last year (there are now separate iPhone and iPad apps). Currently 35 to 40 percent of the total audience now comes from native apps. An Android app was recently launched into the Google Play store.
While many of the company’s newspaper partners have incorporated Find&Save into their websites, Smith doesn’t see that adding Find&Save to newspaper mobile apps makes much sense. He thinks stand-alone apps work better than trying to cram all content and functions into one app.
“One of my fundamental beliefs, having built a series of app companies over the last few years, is that apps that work are simple, one-point apps. They do one thing, and they do it extremely well,” Smith said.
“I don’t think that will be massively successful for the same reason sticking a car shopping app inside of my Washington Post app is ever going to work. It is two very different audience experiences.”
“If I’m reading an article on my phone you are going to have a very hard time getting my attention to go to another part of the experience to go shopping.”
One area where the new funding will help grow the company is with its new storefront service for small businesses. The recently released Find&Save – Storefront app for the iPhone allows small business owners to create their own digital circulars. The retailer can take photos in their store and have them featured in the Find&Save offerings. The service is free for retailers, and helps Wanderful Media with its retail aggregation efforts by bringing in new, local content – an area where newspapers may still hold a major advantage over digital competitors such as Amazon.com.