Amid a boring banner ad and pesky pop-up ad-filled world, Montréal-based adtech startup Goloot aims to offer direct-to-consumer (D2C) e-commerce brands another option.
Goloot’s tech allows online media publishers to reward user engagement with personalized offers that can be claimed in a single click. The Montréal startup aims to enhance rather than interrupt the user experience, blending in with publishers’ existing websites.
“We have found a successful formula that’s sticky with all sides of our ecosystem.”
-Lucas Béland, Goloot
After building relationships with a slew of notable Canadian media publishers and acquiring some large D2C brands as customers, Goloot is ready to start growing. Armed with $4 million CAD in previously unannounced seed funding, the startup plans to invest in its tech, expand its presence across Canada, and start moving into the United States.
Founded in 2020 by then-19-year-old CEO Lucas Béland, Goloot helps media publisher partners like Le Journal de Montréal, Narcity, Elle, and Quebecor Media monetize their websites. The company connects these firms to D2C brands like Simons, Lancôme Paris, FlightHub, Keurig, and SSENSE.
“We have found a successful formula that’s sticky with all sides of our ecosystem,” Béland told BetaKit in an interview. “We need to optimize it.”
Closed in June as a simple agreement for future equity (SAFE), Goloot’s seed round was led by existing backers ex-Paysafe president and CEO Joel Leonoff and former Paysafe COO Danny Chazonoff. The financing also saw participation from Anges Québec, Nadia Petrolito, global legal operations officer of L’Oreal (one of Goloot’s customers through Lancôme Paris), MissFresh co-founder Bernard Prevost, and other undisclosed angel investors. The round brings Goloot’s total funding to date to nearly $6 million CAD.
Béland’s initial idea for Goloot was to build a mobile game where users could earn real-life coupons for playing. When that notion failed to generate traction, the CEO pivoted to promoting merchant rewards for completing digital experiences, bringing the concept to the media world.
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Today, Goloot’s customers are e-commerce merchants, which it charges based on performance and affiliate commissions. The performance marketing tech space is a crowded one, featuring a number of established players like Rokt and Tipser, which was acquired by Bolt last year, and fellow Canadian upstarts like financial institution-focused Fintel Connect.
Béland argued that while Canadian firm Bonsai operates in a similar space, it doesn’t compete directly with Goloot, describing Rokt as Goloot’s closest direct competitor. But according to the CEO, there aren’t any other companies that do exactly what Goloot does or interact with users in the same fashion.
After securing some angel funding from the former Paysafe leaders and Petrolito in 2020, Béland dropped out of CEGEP, where he was preparing to study law, to dive full-time into Goloot during the early days of the pandemic and improve online advertising.
“Advertising sucks on the web,” said Béland. “It’s a really, really, really bad user experience. The vast majority of consumers hate banners and pop-ups and videos. They find them meaningless [and] no one interacts with them.”
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With its tech, Goloot aims to offer merchants another option. Paysafe’s Chazonoff described Goloot’s market opportunity as “large and exciting,” noting that “there will always be a need “for brands to attract more eyeballs” and better engage consumers.
“The premise behind Goloot is to reward consumers with relevant opportunities at the time when specific behaviors happen,” Chazonoff told BetaKit. “If the brands can get a consumer to do something—read an email, play a game, engage in a survey, sign up for a newsletter, etc.—then the brand can and will reward that behaviour with something that drives the consumer to react.”
According to Chazonoff, who sits on the startup’s board, the data Béland has shown to date through partners that have used Goloot is “incredibly encouraging and far more meaningful than other traditional models, technologies and tools.”
Chazonoff called the data Béland has shown to date through Goloot partners “incredibly encouraging.”
Since closing its seed round, Goloot has grown its team from nine to 18 employees. As a small team with a low burn rate facing what could be a long economic downturn, Béland said Goloot is in a good spot. In light of market conditions, the startup revised its hiring strategy and is only investing in resources, channels, and activities that directly drive topline business growth.
“It’s not a time right now for us to be building features that are sexy,” said Béland. “It’s not a time right now for us to be building or hiring people that are in sexy positions. It’s really just about any feature that is going to optimize our conversion rate.”
In a challenging market where Facebook is taking a hit on the advertising front and customer acquisition costs are on the rise, the CEO said “it’s getting really expensive and difficult to advertise.” Amid these conditions, Béland argued that “performance marketing solutions like Goloot that directly drive profitability are very easy to justify for merchants.”
For his part, Chazonoff believes Goloot is well-positioned to grow during this period. “Consumers will continue to buy—brands may spend less in advertising and marketing but they will spend, they will spend smarter and spend with solutions and partners that bring them more conversions and more engagement—exactly what Lucas and Goloot are doing.”
UPDATE 09/12/2022: Following the publication of this article, Goloot contacted BetaKit to note that its tech is not yet available on Le Journal de Montréal despite this being stated on its website. The startup is currently working with Le Journal’s parent company Quebecor, and its tech is for now exclusively used on QUB.ca, with plans to expand across its other sites in the future.
Feature image courtesy Goloot.