In July 2014, Mercury made its initial investment in LISNR, the leading provider of ultrasonic beacon technology. Have you heard of Rodney Williams? If not, you eventually will. Rodney is the energizing founder and force behind LISNR. Rodney started his career at P&G, working for the Pampers brand. During his time at P&G, he became the first marketer to be issued a digital patent (three patents awarded.) Like most entrepreneurs, Rodney was unaccepting of the bureaucracy of corporate America. When he had a great idea for funding and P&G didn’t bite, it was hasta la vista, and LISNR was born.
LISNR provides a platform for ultrasonic smart tones that active media or enable M2M (machine to machine) communications. In a world of bluetooth beacons, and noisy “sound” enabled tech, LISNR stands apart. LISNR employs a BaaS (back-end-as-a-service) go-to-market strategy. Its SDK is optimized to work with apps for media companies, retailers, CPGs, industrial companies, etc. This includes live performance, second screen, retail, and industrial (M2M) environments.
LISNR may be the most interesting company you’ve never heard of. That’s because it was launched in Cincinnati, although it now has offices in San Francisco and New York. However, people have started noticing, with LISNR and Rodney being awarded the following:
- Cannes Lion (Mobile Technology)
- CNBC’s Top 50 Disrupters (#12)
- AdAge’s Top 40 Marketers under 40
- Digiday Content Marketing Award (Best Content Marketing Platform)
- Jet Magazine’s 40 under 40
- 30 under 30 Black Media Executives
- UpStart’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs
- Ernst & Young’s E.D.G.E. Award
Mercury has had deep experience with location-based technologies, and geo-location technology in general. Our earlier investments in Koupon Media and Vistar Media have leveraged Bluetooth LE tech for a number of their clients. However, our portfolio companies continue to hear that hardware costs to retailers and consumer phone battery life are prohibiting the mass deployment of Bluetooth beacons. LISNR’s technology will change that and should make beacon technology more affordable and its promise of ubiquitous notifications more attainable.
LISNR took its product to market, first through live entertainment venues in partnership with ROC Nation, and later by powering beacons within the Dallas Cowboys’ and Buffalo Sabres’ apps. These three pilots were immediately successful, with millions of customers interacting with LISNR’s ultrasonic beacons for song downloads, instant replays, and product endorsements. LISNR has expanded its customer footprint, to include retailers and CPGs, and is now staring to enter second screen opportunities with content and set-top box providers. LISNR recently graduated from RGA Techstars, and is positioned to do great things in the immediate future.
Congrats to Rodney and the team – we are excited to be working with you!
You can read more about our investment here.