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Toronto's CrowdRiff raises $2 million seed round for visual influence platform

CrowdRiffToronto visual user-generated-content marketing company CrowdRiff has closed a $2 U.S. million seed funding round from BDC Capital, Gibraltar Ventures, High Alpha Capital and Foundation Capital.
CrowdRiff, whose visual and social marketing platform is aimed at destination and travel brands, saw 400% growth during 2015.
The company’s visual influence platform allows clients, focused in the travel industry, to discover a curated range of content using the social web, for marketing purposes.
“Using photos and videos to promote your brand has completely changed in the last few years with customers demanding authenticity, variety and immediacy — and that’s what CrowdRiff delivers,” says CrowdRiff Co-founder and CEO Dan Holowack.
Colorado Tourism, Travel Portland and Explore British Columbia use CrowdRiff to power their websites, blogs and advertising.
“CrowdRiff gives us a level of engagement with potential visitors that we’ve never seen with another tool,” says director of social and emerging media at Colorado Tourism Dave Fluegge.
“The value we’re delivering for destination and travel brands is only the beginning,” says Holowack. “Today, every business markets an experience, not just destinations. CrowdRiff can help any brand become more aspirational and inspirational, leading the consumer to an engaging, authentic experience that extends beyond the product itself.”
Other CrowdRiff customers include Azamara Cruises, Shedd Aquarium, Pebble Beach Resorts and the Royal Ontario Museum, who have access to engaging photos and videos that they can use to create experiences across their digital marketing channels.
“We are excited to partner with Dan and the CrowdRiff team as they embark on empowering brand marketers to obtain greater engagement through access to authentic visual imagery,” said Cam di Prata, Founder and Managing Partner of Gibraltar Ventures and a CrowdRiff director.
The Royal Ontario Museum uses CrowdRiff to help it manage social media conversations and engage with visitors, allowing visitors to enhance the museum’s narrative around major exhibits by folding their posts back into a larger social media campaign, while also gathering attendee intelligence for the ROM, offering insight into how to shape visitor experience based on feedback.
“Over the last year using CrowdRiff it’s been really easy to show the power of earned media and UGC,” says Royal Ontario Museum Digital Engagement Coordinator Ryan Dodge. “We no longer tell people that we are cool, people are doing it for us.”
The ROM placed CrowdRiff’s photo gallery embed feature directly on their homepage, which updates itself as new content is curated through the social media feed.
“We are impressed with CrowdRiff’s growth, robust technology platform and bold vision for transforming how organizations leverage social photos to power their websites, blogs and other marketing channels,” said Scott Dorsey, Managing Partner at High Alpha Capital, and former Co-Founder & CEO of ExactTarget. “We are delighted to be investing in Dan and the CrowdRiff team.”
CrowdRiff will use the investment to drive product innovation, expand its sales and marketing staff, and build their visual influence platform.
CrowdRiff will be in attendance at the Destination Marketing West Tech Summit, taking place from March 16-18 in Anaheim, California.

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