Curalate Raises Mind-Blowing $27.5 Million

"It's an endorsement that you can build a world-class tech company in Philly."

The Curalate team just got $27.5 million to continue making its quest to make image recognition a part of online shopping.

The Curalate team just got $27.5 million to continue its quest to revolutionize e-commerce.

Curalate has a bold mission: Reshape the $1.6 trillion e-commerce market by capitalizing on the increased use of photos online.

The Philly-based tech company just closed a whopping $27.5 million venture capital round and seems poised to stay on top of the ever-changing market. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates and actually amounted to more than all of Curalate’s previous raises combined. The company has now raised $40 million to date. Other investors were MentorTech and First Round Capital.

Curalate currently works with 800 clients like Urban Outfitters, BuzzFeed, Crate & Barrel and Nordstrom. The company created a suite of products which includes: Like2Buy that makes Instagram shoppable; Visual Insights which tells a brand which of its images were shared on social networks like Facebook or Pinterest; and Reveal, which links the images on a retailer’s website with purchase pages, limiting the amount of clicks it takes to get a customer finished with a purchase.

Apu Gupta, Curalate’s CEO and co-founder, said “it’s an endorsement that you can build a world-class tech company in Philly.”

Curalate has already grown from 50 employees at the end of 2014 to 110 at the end of 2015. Armed with this new round of cash, the company plans to more than double its headcount by the end of 2016.

“We’re heavily investing in sales and marketing …” said Gupta. “We need designers, project managers and world-class sales people. We need raw talent.”

One recent hire is Luke Butler, who served in the Nutter Administration as the chief of staff to the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development since April 2012. He’s serving as strategy and operations manager for Curalate.

As Gupta sees it, the whole web is becoming a more visual place. Look at the popularity of Instagram, a social media site that’s strictly photo-based. Take Twitter for example. Photos used to appear as links but now appear directly in a person’s news feed.

So why not allow businesses to sell products wherever consumers are spending time?

“The point of purchase is moving to the point of interaction,” said Gupta.

“If the point of interaction starts to become dominated by pictures, then the pictures will become the point of purchase,” he continued. “We think e-commerce is going to disaggregate. Today we go to a website and buy there — but why? … If I can supply you the right information, why do you need to go to Macys.com?”

Makes sense to me, and it certainly seems to make sense to the investors.

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