DETROIT – March 4, 2013 – Stik, a reviews website driving local referrals for professional services, announced today that it has closed a $2.3 million Series A financing. The round was co-led by North Coast Technology Ventures and Detroit Venture Partners. Draper Associates, First Step Fund, the State of Michigan via the Michigan Strategic Fund and Automation Alley also participated in the round. Stik previously raised a $500K seed round led by Draper Associates.
Stik helps small companies that rely on word-of-mouth referrals acquire new business and build a reputation through the power of authentic online reviews. With more than 2.5 million recommendations and reviews, the site is a leader for online mortgage, insurance, real estate and home services reviews.
“Stik uniquely use the Facebook platform to solve several problems that plague review sites’ credibility,” said Nathan Labenz, co-founder, Stik. “By authenticating user actions via Facebook, we ensure that all reviews are written by real people. Moreover, we use the Facebook social graph to highlight service providers within individual consumers’ personal networks.”
The fundraising announcement comes on the heels of Stik’s move from San Francisco to downtown Detroit’s emerging technology and innovation hub. Stik will use this latest round of funding to further expand its team, which has already more than doubled in size in the four months since moving to Detroit.
“Naysayers are wrong about Detroit. This is the best place in America to build a business – many talented, hard working and technically trained people proudly call this city their home,” said Jay Gierak, co-founder, Stik. “Detroiters are hungry for a new opportunity, and our company is thriving as a result.”
Gierak and Labenz are both from the Detroit area originally, and met while attending Harvard University. The team moved to Silicon Valley after graduation and launched Stik.com in 2010.
Detroit-area investors have been eager to support the company’s move to Detroit. ”We are thrilled to support the passionate and creative leaders of Stik. They have identified a very compelling void in the market, and we believe Stik will become the dominant source for professional referrals and own the category,” said Josh Linker, CEO & Managing Partner at Detroit Venture Partners. “The company’s momentum, combined with its leaders’ vision and focus, will ensure Stik becomes one of the most valuable and recognized platforms online.”
Josh founded Detroit Venture Partners with partner Dan Gilbert, Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans.
Despite the unconventional decision to leave San Francisco for Detroit, Bay Area investors, including Tim Draper, have continued to back the company. ”Stik is part of a wave of innovative young companies leveraging the power of the Facebook platform to build high-value applications. Draper Associates is thrilled to follow up on our earlier investment by participating in the current fund-raise, and we’re excited to watch Jay and Nathan become local heroes as they build the company in Detroit,” Draper said.
Thomas Anderson, Senior Director at Automation Alley, Michigan’s largest technology business association, explained that Detroit’s growing tech scene could be a game-changer for the region: “We are a strong believer in the opportunity created by startups like Stik, who combine a disruptive idea, talented entrepreneurs, and the passion necessary to create a successful venture. We look forward to working with them as the business grows.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation joined local supporters in the round. “We value startups like Stik who have the talent, drive and entrepreneurial spirit to take an idea and turn it into a successful venture,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Michael A. Finney. “We believe so strongly in our tech startups in Michigan that we are willing to co-invest through our Pure Michigan Venture Match Fund alongside venture capital funds in our promising companies. This is a perfect example of that, and we’re excited to be part of this next round of investment for Stik.”
Stik is a reviews website for local professional services that is bringing the traditional word-of-mouth business referral process online. The company helps small businesses and individual professionals establish their online reputations via authentic reviews and testimonials.
Stik also uses Facebook to help consumers find trusted professionals who can facilitate important purchases such as a home mortgages or insurance policies. The company was co-founded by Jay Gierak and Nathan Labenz in 2010, and is located in the M@dison Building in downtown Detroit. For more information, please visit www.stik.com.