NEW YORK: Cutler PR founder Zach Cutler has launched a PR tool called Propel with $450,000 in seed funding.
The funding round was led by Jonathan Cogley, the founder and CTO of cybersecurity company Thycotic. His stake in Propel remains private.
Cutler said Propel’s valuation was more than $10 million. Kite Hill, which acquired Cutler PR earlier this year, and Frank have signed onto Propel as clients.
Propel bills itself as CRM for PR, helping clients manage their workflow and track a story from the time the email pitch is sent to when the story is published. It integrates itself with Gmail via a Chrome extension and Outlook via an Office add-in.
Cutler started Propel a couple of years ago as an internal project for Cutler PR. The project was an effort to differentiate the tech-focused firm by organizing and providing reporting to clients. Partly using the proceeds of the Kite Hill sale, he launched Propel in beta in June.
Cutler’s relationship with Cogley goes back to his days at Cutler PR, where Thycotic was a client. Cogley sold Thycotic to New York-based Insight Venture Partners for an undisclosed amount in 2015. He continues to sit on Thycotic’s board of directors and holds stock.
Propel will use its seed funding to launch a new feature next year, the Propel NLP Engine, which will help PR pros identify writers and influencers worth pitching, Cutler said.
NLP matches PR pros with journalists and influencers in their respective topics and categories, and distinguishes which are most aligned with the PR pro by using metrics, such as their email open rates, response rates, and publish rates.
"We’ve seen paid and owned media adopt tech and innovation at such a huge rate, but we see earned media go a lot slower," Cutler said. "In the next year or two, earned media tech will explode."
Propel is made up of four tech specialists, one sales rep, one product manager, Cutler, and CTO and cofounder David Cohen. It will hire more sales reps and engineers in Q4 of this year and into 2019.
Propel is also forming a board of advisors, comprised of Ron Yekutiel, co-founder and CEO of Kaltura; Itai Sadan, founder and CEO of Duda; Eric Alterman, founder of Mesh Networks and KickApps; Trevor Sumner, co-founder of LocalVox and CEO of Perch Interactive; and Ben Enosh, co-founder of Cyota, AudioBurst, and PLYmedia.