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Attentive: A Bridge Between Brands and Consumers


The latest technological developments have drastically altered consumer behavior and marketing strategies. Digital marketing is the way of the future, but this field is also not immune to change.

Consumers are already overwhelmed with outdated digital marketing strategies like email promos and newsletters. People want more authentic and personalized experiences. And this is where mobile message marketing comes in.

It allows brands to send customized ads based on a person’s interests and behavior. It also lets people directly message brands with questions about delivery, product materials, etc.

The mobile message marketing industry is on a promising path to taking over the digital realm. Attentive is a leader in this industry as it allows customization like no other mobile marketing company.

It was founded in 2016 by three ambitious souls—Andrew Jones, Ethan Lo, and Brian Long. Continue reading to discover how they made Attentive a Unicorn company.

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

Each of Atentive’s founders has an individual backstory and specialization. Brian Long has a Master’s degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship from NYU School of Business, Andrew Jones has a Bachelor’s in Information Systems and Finance, and Ethan Lo has a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Haverford College.

Before starting Attentive, Andrew Jones and Brian Long ran a different company—TapCommerce. Brian was the CEO, appointing Long as Head of Product.

TapCommerce’s primary goal was to promote apps of retail brands to consumers. It was so successful Twitter acquired it, and Andrew and Brian continued expanding their horizons there. Brian moved to the role of Senior Director, Andrew became a Senior Program Manager, and Lo a Senior Software Engineer.

Ethan also had a steady career. After graduating, he started an internship at Microsoft and later became an engineer at TapCommerce, where he met and quickly impressed his supervisors and future co-founders.

However, the trio’s entrepreneurial spirits couldn’t stay put for long. The dream team started brainstorming ideas and gradually building up what would become an industry giant—Attentive.

The First Steps

While working at Twitter, the trio got the need to start their own company. They realized how consumers didn’t have much interest in buying apps but leaned towards customized experiences and direct communication.

Brian, Ethan, and Andrew started experimenting with different demo platforms focusing on communication within the workforce. However, the demo versions showed that consumer-to-brand communication resonated more.

Soon, they started working on creating a bridge between brands and consumers through text messages. Their dream quickly became a reality as they founded Attentive only a few years later, in 2016.

The Marketing Prodigies Behind Attentive

Nobody expected this company to grow as much as it did, but the founders’ entrepreneurial drive and experience led Attentive to glory. After launching, Andrew Jones, Ethan Lo, and Brian Long spent most of their time expanding and improving their products.

In a relatively short time frame, the company started offering more options for customizing SMS marketing campaigns. Also, they were laser-focused on establishing partnerships with the right companies. This is what helped them become the giant it is today.

Much of the success is also owed to the unbeatable software, which pushed SMS marketing to the next level. After all, with Attentive, brands can design and edit their campaigns in real time without needing customer support on standby. This ease of use attracted many brands and allowed them to intensify their connections with their consumers.

In addition, Attentive integrated with large messaging platforms, which helped with growth, audience management, integration, and business intelligence. For instance, besides Shopify and Shopify+, the software is also integrated with Mailchimp, Mparticle, Zendesk, and Gorgias.

On Firm Financial Grounds

Attentive started with Seed Round funding in October 2016 with Eniac Ventures and NextView Ventures. Six years and seven funding rounds later, it has raised a total of $863 million.

The results brands saw from Attentive SMS marketing services helped the company grow into an industry titan. Only four years after launching, it had a $2.2 billion evaluation and became a Unicorn company. It has been standing on firm financial grounds ever since.

Today, it has 21 investors, out of which Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, IVP, Coatue, and Eniac Ventures are lead investors. Plus, nothing screams success like acquiring other companies, and Attentive has so far amassed two—Tone and Privy.

From The Ground Up

With an estimated value of over $4 billion, Attentive proudly holds the Unicorn hub tag. Still, this achievement barely scratches the surface. Attentive was part of Forbes’s America’s Best Startup Employers list in 2022, voted #12 in Forbes’s Cloud 100 List, and was the third Fastest Growing Company in North America in 2021 by Deloitte Technology Fast 500.

The accreditations and awards don’t end there, as Attentive is a proud Shopify Plus Certified App Partner and a Salesforce AppExchange Partner. The company was named a G2 Leader for SMS and Mobile Marketing in 2022.

It’s no wonder it is a favorite among 5,000+ top-tier brands such as Supergoop, CB2, Urban Outfitters, PuraVida, Rebecca Minkoff, and Marc Jacobs. Today, the company boasts a 30%+ click-through rate and ten times higher revenue from their messages than email.

It provides various innovative SMS marketing products and allows a fully customizable text marketing campaign for brands. Its partnerships with industry leaders like Adobe Magento and Shopify Plus enable it to cover all the critical aspects of modern-day marketing.

Attentive has so far gone through multiple funding rounds. The Series E funding round in 2021 offered a $45.66 share and raked in $7B.

Where is Attentive Now?

Attentive is a perfect example of what strong will and hard work can do. Since its launch, the company has only grown and hasn’t had any significant obstacles or mistakes. In March 2022, it expanded to an international audience, opening its first headquarters out of the US in London.

Today, Attentive has a post-money valuation of $1 to $10 billion, nine board members, and a strong industry reputation, despite facing dozens of competitors such as Vibes, Act-On Software, Certona, and Ask Nicely.

Since Attentive launched, Ethan had the role of Founding Engineer, CRO, and Head of Special Projects. However, he stepped back in 2019 to become a Lead Backend and DevOps Developer for New York’s Digital Services.

On the other hand, Brian and Andrew still hold active roles in the company. Brian is the CEO, while Andrew handles the product. His change from Chief Product Officer to New Product Experimentation in 2021 tells a ton about the company’s future ambitions.

What The Future Holds

The future only holds bright things for Attentive. The company wanted to grow into its next phase carefully.

So, it invited former Venmo CEO and Twilio CMO to join the team. As of 2021, Amit Jhawar is President, and Sara Varni is Chief Marketing Officer.

Attentive SMS Marketing

The results are evident as recently, Attentive started a witty and surprisingly traditional marketing campaign in New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. They plan to make people aware of the possibilities and benefits of SMS marketing.

“You can’t have a conversation with an ad,” says one of their billboards, while another compares how many New Yorkers carry mobile phones and how many carry billboards (96% vs. 0%).

Besides marketing, Attentive is also focusing on product development, creating even more cutting-edge SMS marketing products. They are collecting zero and first-person data upon sign-up, expanding to audio message ads, and modernizing their performance dashboard.

Given their ambition and past successes, it’s easy to predict how Attentive will continue being an industry leader. One can only imagine how far this innovative company will push SMS marketing.