Letterhead wants to be the Shopify of email newsletters – TechCrunch

You are probably investing in an email newspaper these days, whether you are an international brand, a non-profit or a local news publisher.

Maybe email is still your focus, as you have been burned by Facebook, Google or other closed platforms during the past decade. The problem is that the tools you have available are probably too generic, or built specifically for marketers. What if you want to earn money from the content of the newsletter itself?

Title The existing email is slicing through a huge market of SaaS products, betting that a cross-section of revenue and collaboration needs is not being met properly for all types of newspaper creators. Instead, it puts all ad sales, paid subscriptions and newsletter content management into a single, streamlined product.

Its perspectives on the future of newsletters – and its customer base so far – differ from your typical SaaS startup in Silicon Valley. And there is a reason for that. Letterhead is actually a community publisher’s product spinout in Miami WhereBy.Us Started life in 2014 by starting a local media site, The new tropical. The publication became a rare success in local news online, focusing on the email newspaper format.

“Initially, our goal was to create a local media product that would help people learn about the city, become more involved and serve a new generation of local news users,” co-founder and CEO Chris Sofer told me in the video Told via chat. “Our thoughts included opening once, events and all other stuff. We quickly returned something that was working, and topped the email list. “

The advertising list in these emails was in high demand, so the company built a self-service payment system for advertisers, which allowed its newspaper writers to easily publish the right ads in the right place.

With this business model and technology as a foundation, it launched or acquired newsletters Seattle, Portland, Orlando And Pittsburgh. Through this process, it has continued to improve the equipment.

It also discovered widespread demand.

“People reach out to us and say ‘I love this newspaper, what devices do you use?” Because for this kind of pain the email had to be produced with all the different means, ”explains Sofer.

(Those tools, which this author’s experience usually involves combining Mailchamp, Constant Contact, or Sellthrough with your main web publishing CMS like WordPress, your separate subscription software such as Piano, and although you’re managing ads). )

“We will tell people that we have used our own internal devices and they will say ‘Oh, can we use them too? And we will say’ No, we are not doing this. ‘ After all, we didn’t say enough to look at each other and say, ‘We should figure out how to do yes to this.’ And that’s where the letterhead came from. “

Image Credit: Title

today, WhereBy.Us Local news is one of the few success stories from a frightening decade. Sofran says that his five city newspapers overall are comfortably profitable through advertisements – recovered from an epidemic earlier this year – and continue to grow.

But the new focus is on Letterhead’s tools, including an ad system, a new paid subscription feature that lets you pay for sub-segments of email, easy-to-use text editing and template formatting, and soon, Lets do things like analytics.

“Sponsorship and advertising were [needs] We mostly heard about it, so that’s where we started, “Rebekah Monson, co-founder and COO, said by email. “The big vision is to create a set of tools and services that feed each other in one easy place, and help grow all those revenue streams that eventually run out of email. We are demanding this not only from traditional media publishers, but also from marketers, nonprofits, universities, professional organizations – all these people who are connected to communities and want to deepen that relationship and that engagement Want to bring revenue through the medium. “

On the spectrum of email newsletter products, Letterhead focuses on revenue and team collaboration, focusing on Substack’s focus on the person writer and other products specifically tailored around subscription news organizations such as LedK.

Letterhead is clearly a hosted software solution that you use for your organization to use, not an open-source project like Ghost. Just as Shopify offers a suite of white-label e-commerce features for those wanting to run an online business, it wants to be a lukewarm engine under the hood of your newsletter.

On a very broad spectrum of all email solutions in the SaaS world, letterhead is betting that an understanding of the market and its product design can beat the brutally competitive world of SaaS email products.

Since soft-launching earlier this year, Soren says it is already signing a wide range of customers. Examples he cited include startups (Shoot my trip), non profitable (Farewell or salud And To refresh) And political groups (OD verb) As subscribers, as well as local news publishers, of course (VTDigger, Choose954 And Santa Cruz Local). Letterhead is also a partner WordPress’ news pack program, Which is a collection of plug-ins for publishers on that CMS.

“We’re always going to have an affinity for media publishing … but there’s a wider need than that industry,” he explains. “And we are also looking at this moment where a lot of other organizations are participating [publishing]. You name a subject, professional journalists will do great work there. But it is also very likely that a brand, an agency, a nonprofit or some other organization is creating interesting and useful content, and building a community around it – that will not raise its hand and say that it News is part of the industry. “

Sofran also notes that the product has been made modular, so that companies can use parts of it and integrate its features with other email service providers and any technology stack.

He said, “What we are seeing is that small customers are coming to the same place without having to abandon demonetisation for the simplicity of being in one place,” but he says that big customers give us one of their stacks. Choosing in part as they build a multi-faceted business or move beyond tools designed for individual or independent creators. “

With revenue options in place, Sorton says analytics and additional ESP options are coming next.

Throughout its history, WHU has raised $ 5 million through Tech and Media. Backers have a round led by the Knight Foundation, Jason Calakinis’ LANUHC Fund, Band of Angels, McClatchy, Hundreds of Small Investors through Republic and SeedInvest and most recently, Brick Capital.