The Halifax startup launched two-and-a-half years ago as an e-commerce site for menswear, and then morphed into a platform that helped clothing brands make sales through Instagram. Last summer, it developed a tool for analyzing the market response to Instagram posts, and discovered that was the tool clients really wanted. It now bills itself as a smarter way to grow on Instagram.
“It was clear that it was uneconomical to grow the consumer app business,” Co-Founder and CEO Thomas Rankin said in an interview last week. “We tried everything so we started kind of exploring the different opportunities. We understood there was this huge black hole in terms of understanding what was going on in Instagram and the brands were telling us this.”
What Dash Hudson does is collect data on how major brands are connecting with customers on Instagram. The photo-sharing app is one of the most popular social media tools available, and clothing brands and retailers have been eager to use it as an advertising platform. But as of last summer they were unable to analyze what effect Instagram posts were having with customers.
Meanwhile, Rankin and his co-founder Tomek Niewiarowski had developed an app that allowed brands to post photos on Instagram of models wearing their clothes with relevant descriptions. They wanted to know how their own Instagram posts were performing, but there was no tool to do so. So Niewiarowski built one.
Through the app, Rankin had built up relationships with several leading brands and suddenly they were asking for the analytics tool. So Dash Hudson’s main business is helping these brands to understand who they’re reaching on Instagram and how they can be more effective in marketing through Instagram.
Dash Hudson has just launched a beta-test for a similar service for Snapchat, a popular image-based messaging service.
“In November we started to generate revenue on the SaaS (software-as- a-service) platform and it’s been growing really fast,” said Rankin.
He said the tool allows customers to measure their numbers on Instagram and to take action on what they learn.
Rankin declined to detail the company’s revenues. But he did say Dash Hudson charges US$1,000 to US$5,000 a month for the service, and it has some contracts worth US$125,000 a year. Clients include the Condé Nast media group, Revolve clothing and Hyatt Hotels Corp..
Dash Hudson raised $1 million in capital last spring, including investments from Innovacorp and Halifax tech entrepreneurs Jevon MacDonald and Gavin Uhma. Rankin said revenues are now growing quickly enough that it won’t need a fresh injection of capital any time soon.
“We’re just really heads down and growing,” Rankin said. “I think our Snapchat launch when it happens will be significant.”
He said with Snapchat, Dash Hudson will “be on the front end of the curve and that will allow us to expand a lot faster.”