McCormick professor’s startup receives $5 million venture capital investment

Rebecca Savransky, Assistant Campus Editor

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A McCormick professor’s company that uses social media to help advertisers better target consumers was awarded $5 million on Jan. 21 by a venture capital firm.

Jump Capital awarded the money to 4C, which was founded by Prof. Alok Choudhary in 2013 when Voxsup, a company he started in 2011, merged with The Echo System, another company responsible for analyzing consumer behavior, to create a larger, more successful business.

Choudhary created a unique algorithm meant to offer buyers the ability to gain more insight into how consumers make decisions and choose particular brands. The algorithm was targeted toward advertisers to help them more effectively market their brands to customers. The creation of these algorithms was a result of more than 20 years of research and study in the field, Choudhary said. He said before applying for the funding, 4C had already built up a successful customer database and applied for the money to enable growth.

“Our customers say, ‘Wow, we’ve never seen anything like this,’ because this data science is a thing not everybody can do,” he said.

The process to apply for a venture capital fund involves significant planning and requires proof of recent company success, Choudhary said. He said the investment company looks at business plans, projections, competitors, future plans and other aspects of the company before allotting the funding.

“You present all that in a very comprehensive way to various investors and then some of them will believe in you,” Choudhary said. “Others may not want to take the risk.”

Kunal Merchant, 4C’s senior vice president of global business development, said Choudhary’s vast experience and innovative use of algorithms has made the company stand out against other businesses. He said the company is unique because it provides a more comprehensive database of consumer needs.

“It’s taking what people commonly see and going much deeper into understanding connections that they place between an individual and a brand, a brand and another brand,” Merchant said. “We have had abilities to really help someone realize the value of their investment.”

The company is looking to expand their already existing offices in Seattle, New York and Chicago, and potentially to add additional offices in other countries to gain a wider reach for potential customers, Merchant said.

4C plans to use to money to accelerate product development, increase sales and develop partnerships with other companies and agencies, Choudhary said. He said he is excited to see where the future of the company will go and hopes the funding will help it to excel.

“We are in a position where now we can actually have growth,” Choudhary said. “Now we’ve already established some market. We’ve already proved our products where people are using it and it is profitable.”

Twitter: @beccasavransky