Contently, a freelance writer network and TechStars 2011 startup, has raised $2 million from Lightbank, the fund started by early Groupon investors Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell. ff Venture Capital, Consigliere Brand Capital, Scott Belsky, and Dharmesh Shah also contributed. Ad Age first reported the funding.
The New York-based startup was founded by Shane Snow, Joe Coleman and David Goldberg last year. Contently has already worked with 40+ active publishers and brands including LinkedIn, Best Buy and American Express. It has a database of 3,000 approved writers and thousands more in waiting, according to Snow.
More and more brands are trying to create content networks. American Express’ Open Forum may be the best exaple of this with its small business coverage. Despite the traditional separation of church and state between editorial and advertisements, this kind of integrated sponsorship has been around for a long time. After all, Soap Operas were named for their original soap sponsors, Proctor and Gamble, Lever and others.
Contently was hoping to raise $3 million but turned down a term sheet it received for that amount. The founders felt Lightbank was more valuable than the extra $1 million. “We were really pumped about what they could bring to the table besides cash, and we didn’t take a hit valuation wise,” says Snow.