The Front Flip executive team (from left): founder and chief product officer Matt Beckner, VP of sales Cris Bengis, CEO and co-founder Sean Beckner, CTO Chris Horsefield, CMO Josh Harbert and director of business care Sarah Kahler.
Customer loyalty marketing startup Front Flip, the maker of a virtual scratch-off app with the same name, announced today it closed a $3.7 million Series B round led by Jon Darbyshire of the Leawood, Kan.-based Archer Foundation.
A number of other Kansas City area investors also participated in the round, including Peter Brown, former chairman, CEO and president of AMC; Gary Fish, founder and CEO of FishNet Security; Lance Melber, founder of eSmartloan.com (acquired by Capital One, 2004); and the Brandmeyer family, founders of Enturia (acquired by Cardinal Health, 2008).
The new funds, Front Flip co-founder and CEO Sean Beckner said in a phone interview today, will be used to support the expansion of the startup’s sales team. Initally, outside of its Leawood, Kan. headquarters where it employs 30 people.
By Feb. 4, Beckner said Front Flip will have added a dozen sales reps in cities throughout the U.S.
“We’re adding on an additional focus of having people on the ground in local markets, getting local mom-and-pop businesses on the platform,” Beckner said. Key expansion cities, he said, include Denver, Dallas, Minneapolis and the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area.
This focus on local comes not more than a year after the startup launched nationally, and just 14 months after its initial release in Kansas City. Since that time, Front Flip has appeared in more than 1,000 locations of businesses that pay to use the customer loyalty program and has attracted more than 500,000 users to its app.
Beckner said the main competitor when it goes out to sell its product is email marketing programs that stores pay to use. When it comes to other apps, he said they exist but that they have the same utility as punch cards, such as buy 10 coffees and get one free.
“Nobody is really making the experience fun when it comes to loyalty,” Beckner said, “we’re still kind of in a class of our own in as far as making the experience unique and enjoyable.”
“Nobody is really making the experience fun when it comes to loyalty.” – Sean Beckner, Front Flip co-founder
Darbyshire, who also led the startup’s $3.25 million Series A round in Jan. 2012, said he finds the startup exciting because it combines innovative thinking with solid execution, employee talent and company culture.
“We believe they have the potential to fundamentally change the way major brands build and maintain loyal relationships with their customers,” Darbyshire (below, right) said in a released statement.
Over the past year, it’s succeeded in bringing on board major brand names, including franchises of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Famous Dave’s.
Looking forward, Beckner said the funds will also support feature enhancements, hinting at “some really cool new features over the next few months.”
Front Flip’s latest round brings its total raised to date to $7.7 million. In 2010, it raised a seed round from family and friends to launch a now scraped app called Me360, an app for liking, sharing and discovering new places.
When asked what it means to look back at the total amount raised and know that a majority of it came from the city where he and his brother grew up and later co-founded the startup together, Beckner said they’ve been “very fortunate.”
“You know it doesn’t happen all that often where Kansas City startups get $7.7 million in funding,” he said. “That’s the real deal. It feels good to be on the path that we’re on and we’re expecting to accelerate rapidly over the course of this year.”
Here’s a Front Flip promotional video providing an overview of is customer loyalty app: