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Major investment could see Personera going global

Technology platform Personera has announced a US$1.4-million Series A round of venture capital from Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa (HPVA), the South African subsidiary of German billionaire and venture capitalist Hasso Plattner. The personalised merchandise company provides customised digital and print products for brands’ Facebook fans. The latest announcement brings its total capital raised to US$1.6-million.

Personera is a free app that brands can install on their Facebook pages which offers fans the chance to order personalised products built around their social networks.

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“The capital will be used to fund global sales, product launch and marketing initiatives, growing Personera’s team in the USA, and expanding Personera’s product range,” said Personera CEO Sheraan Amod.

Speaking from the company’s Cape Town offices, co-founder Jaco de Wet says that Personera has not changed the vision of “your life in print”. “Facebook is global and so is our partnership with several members of the Xerox Premier Partners print network, which gives us a scalable distribution channel. We believe we have credible software solutions and believe its only a matter of time before our Facebook app is adopted globally. Our groundwork for scaling has been expanded and this investment will be a stepping stone in gaining market share before the competition catches up.”

Personera’s initial offering, “Your Calendar,” is a customised calendar plotting your Facebook friends’ birthdays and photos. Brands enjoy the benefit of being able to advertise while also providing personalised dates, birthdays, and images in the calendar page.

The company allows brands free or paid downloadable PDF file of Your Calendar. Fans also have the option of ordering a printed wall-version for US$19.95. Brands acquire a 25% cut of all sales generated via the brands’ fan pages. Because Personera works on a per-sale basis, there are no set-up fees.

The latest deal concluded with HPVA follows Personera’s partnership with popular app marketplace Appbistro, which allows fanpage administrators to plug the app directly into their pages.

Appbistro holds more than 100 app fan pages on Facebook, with 50 000 business apps installed to date among its 40 000 active users.

“Personera has built a great application that allows brands and small businesses the ability to monetize in a very creative way; through offering a personalized products platform,” says Appbistro’s CEO Ryan Merket. “We’re excited to partner with them and bring this offering to our users.”

Personera’s platform allows Facebook fans to purchase a variety of branded print products or digital downloads, fully personalised with their Facebook photos, events and other content. With calendars and planners currently on offer, photobooks and greeting cards are on the way.

Personera’s clients currently include Shape, Woolworths Taste, Fair Lady, VISI and a number of magazines with the major southern hemisphere publisher Media24. The company is currently in talks with several NFL football teams, major US bands, and celebrities with large followings on Facebook.

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