After 12 years of bootstrapping, Rise Interactive raises $12.3M from strategic partner

Andreas Rekdal

In the dating world, the best potential partners tend to show up when you least expect it. One day you’re perfectly content on your own, but then, suddenly, you run into the person of your dreams.

The same thing can hold true for companies as well. After 12 years of being bootstrapped, Chicago digital marketing agency Rise Interactive announced this morning that it has raised $12.3 million as part of a strategic partnership with Quad/Graphics — a Wisconsin-based printing and marketing services company.

“We’ve been working with Quad/Graphics for some time now, and we’ve been able to work collectively on a couple of client campaigns where we’re helping to use Quad’s offline expertise in conjunction with Rise’s online expertise to help clients develop more integrated, more powerful marketing campaigns,” said Rise CEO Jon Morris. “So we got to talking about how we could potentially deepen the partnership even further, and we felt that by Quad investing in Rise, we could take those funds to accelerate our innovation roadmap, and co-innovate together.”

Morris said his company has been propositioned with other funding opportunities many times since its founding, but that cultural fit and a shared vision about the future of marketing made Quad a natural fit for a partnership.

“It just felt right,” he said.

Founded in 2004 while Morris was an MBA student at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Rise specializes in leveraging data insights to ensure that its clients’ marketing budgets are allocated as effectively as possible. That year, the company came in second place in the university’s New Venture Challenge.

Morris said the partnership will help both companies’ clients integrate their digital and offline marketing efforts.

“There’s this convergence happening within marketing, and the lines are really blurring between online and offline,” said Brad Messinger, senior VP of marketing at Rise. “If a customer is in a store on their cell phone, is that an online marketing experience or an offline one? If a customer gets a direct mail coupon and redeems it on their couch through the website, is that an online marketing win or an offline one?”

What Rise and Quad will be able to offer clients, Morris said, is a unified view of their customers wherever they may be.

Part of the funding will be used to support the company’s digital innovations team, which primarily focuses on building and deploying Rise's Connex analytics and personalization platform. That team has grown from less than 10 team members to 35 engineers, developers and data scientists since the beginning of 2015. Agency-wide, Rise has 225 employees.

While the newfound funds will provide a nice cushion for the company’s operating budget, Morris said he plans to proceed with the company’s strategy of growing organically in accordance with demand for its services.

Images via Rise Interactive.

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