Advertising / Investing / Project Liberty

Former Facebook, Myspace exec invests in marketing startup SocialLadder

After three years of plugging away, the small team at SocialLadder is ready to expand.

SocialLadder cofounders Raavi Iqbal and Alana Bly at CityCoHo, October 2014. (Photo by Juliana Reyes)

A big-name, West Coast consumer tech exec has given SocialLadder his stamp of approval.
Former Facebook COO and Myspace CEO Owen Van Natta invested in the slow-burning consumer engagement startup, which raised a $550,000 round, according to an SEC filing. The company has raised a total of $750,000 to date. (Slow-burning? Bear with us, we’ll explain in a second.) The company is branding itself as an alternative to the banner ad, in the age of ad-blocker. Clients include VitaCoco, Flywheel and T-Mobile.
Other investors include Philly-based Pet360 founder Brock Weatherup, Philly-based investors Royal Flush, NYC-based online advertising entrepreneur Michael Walrath, San Francisco restaurateur and money manager David Steele and Baltimore-based entrepreneur Dimitri Topaltzas, said Alana Bly, 34, who cofounded the company with Raavi Iqbal, 37. State-backed investment firm Ben Franklin Technology Partners also invested, along with some other Philly angels, she said.
Here’s why we’d characterize SocialLadder, whose mobile app (both white-label and direct to consumer) hooks up brands and “social influencers,” as a slow-burner: We saw Iqbal present a very early verison of the app at Philly Tech Meetup back in 2012, Iqbal and Bly started working on the startup full-time in early 2014 and shortly thereafter, won the top startup award at PACT’s Phorum conference. Later that year, they landed a flashy customer, filmmmaker Kevin Smith. Now they’re announcing a slate of big-name investors and starting to hire.
Bly and Iqbal just hired a CTO: San Diego-based Amer Qureshi. They currently employ four full-time but they’re also hiring a sales director and marketers.
The company used to work at CityCoHo but now works at the Philly papers’ 8th and Market headquarters, as part of the Project Liberty Digital Incubator.

Companies: Ben Franklin Technology Partners / SocialLadder

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