New and existing investors are putting more cash behind Inspo Network, a Seattle startup aiming to build a lifestyle content platform.
Inspo launched last year, raising a $5.5 million seed round led by PSL Ventures, the venture capital arm of Seattle startup studio Pioneer Square Labs.
The company just reeled in another $3 million, with Greycroft and Airwing joining this time around. New York-based Greycroft has been active in the Pacific Northwest recently, backing startups such as Glow, BraveCare, and Amplion. Los Angeles-based Airwing is a new firm founded by former Steamboat Ventures leaders who previously led Disney’s VC arm.
PSL Ventures and other original backers such as Zillow and Expedia founder Rich Barton also put more money behind Inpso.
The startup is led by former Marchex CEO Pete Christothoulou and his wife Heather Christothoulou. They originally aimed to build a media purchasing marketplace, using a crowdsourced production model to film original TV-quality shows for nationally-recognized influencers in the home, fitness, food, and DIY categories. It also aimed to help brands integrate their products into the shows.
Inspo has pivoted since then. The company still runs its marketplace, but is focused on commerce as a way to generate revenue.
Content creators using Inspo can make their posts “shoppable,” said Pete Christothoulou, allowing consumers to purchase items they see within the app.
“What we’re doing in the Lifestyle category is similar to what today’s leading media brands like Netflix and Spotify are doing in entertainment and music,” Christothoulou said. “We are bringing the world’s experts (across beauty, fashion, fitness, food, home, life) and all of their premium content together in one place to provide greatest selection for fans — and using technology to enable discovery and curation so consumers can craft a personalized, clutter-free experience.”
The app mimics Instagram, but with a focus on lifestyle. Here’s how the company describes itself:
It’s a clutter-free, shoppable experience without social media drama. In one place fans create channels where they only see content from the creators and categories they’ve chosen, and can easily browse and buy products that catch their eye.
Our goal with Inspo is to help people move beyond social media clutter. We put users back in control, help them find joy in their day and empower them to take action when inspired. We bring the crème de la crème lifestyle creators and their content together in one place. A style you’ll dare to try, a meal waiting to become a new staple in your kitchen, a way to organize your world, the chance to buy a cool pair of shoes right when you see them or save for later. It’s all at your fingertips – beauty, fashion, fitness, food, life, and home – so you can turn what you love into how you live.
Facebook-owned Instagram has aggressively rolled out shopping-related features and integrations over the past year.
Amazon also tried its hand at something similar with Amazon Spark, a photo-focused feed meant to direct users to products available for sale on Amazon.com. But Amazon shut that product down in June.
Dana Settle, founding partner with Greycroft, has joined Inspo’s board as a result of the new funding. Other board members include Pioneer Square Labs Managing Director Mike Galgon and former Marchex Executive Chairman Clark Kokich.
Inspo’s investors include Dan Levitan, co-founder of Maveron; Rob Norman, former chief digital officer at GroupM; LiveRamp CEO Scott Howe; LiveRamp CFO Warren Jenson; BlueKai co-founder Grant Ries; BlueKai co-founder Omar Tawakol; Dwellable co-founder Kirby Winfield; Pixvana co-founder Forest Key; OpenX CEO Tim Cadogan; hedge fund manager Dino Christofilis; and several other individuals.
Inspo has more than 20 employees.