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Trip Advisor, Yelp Rival TruRating Raises £9.5m To Fund Growth, Expansion Into North America Shortly After Announcing 2 Million Rating Milestone

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Will TruRating, after a £9.5m Series A fundraising, be able to exploit a gap in the market for “honest and transparent” customer service and product reviews?

TruRating, a start-up which captures real-time ratings from point-of-sale customers in the UK and Australia, has raised £9.5m in a Series A funding led by international investment office for families and foundations Sandaire.

The company has now raised a total of £13.7m, after an Angel investment round of £1.5m was concluded in June last year, following on from a £2.7m seed raising in November 2014.

Notable angel investors to have backed the company include former President and CEO of VISA Europe Peter Ayliffe, who has since become TruRating’s Chairman, Anthony Gutman, co-Head of Investment Banking Services at Goldman Sachs International, and Global Head of Technology, Brunswick Group, Chris Blundell.

TruRating has been named a Gartner 2016 “Cool Vendor”, is a member of the “Future Fifty”, and was also a prize winner, for innovation, at the Cards and Payment Awards 2016 and winner of Ingenico Group’s Best Application award in 2015.

TruRating uses payment terminal hardware to prompt customers to answer one of five questions, using a 0-9 rating scale, concerning either service, value, product, experience or likelihood to recommend the brand, at point of sale.

The startup says 9 out 10 people agree to answer the question, and retailers receive the answers in real-time, allowing them to make quick-fire decisions concerning adjustments and improvements depending on the feedback.

In effect, says TruRating, the service “provides merchants with a mass market view of service and value performance across the company.”

In early 2016 TruRating announced it had achieved its first million ratings, and just seven months later the company said the figure had doubled to more than 2 million. The company also plans to make its ratings available to consumers online to help them make more informed choices about where to shop and eat.

TruRating is live in both the UK and Australia, working with brands including restaurant chain Ping Pong and Franco Manca, and retailer Arco, and say they are currently engaged in trials with major brand names across both markets.

The next step is to “go live” in North America and Canada with a selection of payment partners and merchants. The company expect this to happen before the end of 2016.

TruRating founder and CEO Georgina Nelson says “Our aim is to bring honesty and transparency back to consumer ratings globally. Securing this funding will help us take TruRating to the next level.”

“There’s a huge appetite amongst businesses to get validated, real time ratings from the majority of their customers. It’s such an easy way for customers to have their say and be listened to, and for merchants to respond and improve.”

Nelson is also promising that “some very big household names will be working with us by the end of the year, adding millions more ratings every day.”

TruRating say their ratings growth easily outpaces that of “incumbents in the online consumer ratings sector” by leveraging the capabilities of hardware, e.g. point of sale applications, that are already available to shops and restaurants and that customers have familiarity with.

There is also a likelihood, given the customer has already made the decision to purchase an item when they are asked to submit a review, that they are at least reasonably satisfied with the levels of service provided and the quality of the product, leading them to give generally positive feedback.

Most rating sites, from Trip Advisor to Denmark based Trust Pilot, who have raised more than $100m of funding, have faced accusations that their reviews are in some way biased, embellished, or in extreme cases, entirely fictional, but they remain an integral part of most customers’ buying decisions, if only because they represent a useful way to filter through multiple results quickly.

It will be interesting to see how TruRating’s differentiated and disruptive approach fits into the overall picture, as the company uses its considerable funding to expand internationally, win bigger contracts, and increase the size of its digital footprint.

At a basic level, a minor and possibly unwelcome hiatus in the buying process for customers aside, TruRating would seem to be a product with the capacity to please consumer, product manufacturer and store. A decent trifecta by most startups’ reckoning.

 

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