Today Recess, the leading event sponsorship marketplace, is announcing a $3.7M fundraise led by Founder Equity, along with Quake Capital and Full Tilt Capital, as well as angel investors including Mark Cuban, Ashish Patel (Chief Insights Officer, Group Nine Media), Marc Simons (Co-Founder, Giant Spoon), Kai Hsing (EVP, Marketing & Operations, Bustle), Alan Gould (Co Managing Partner, Peak Opportunity Partners), Jenna Trabulus (Former Executive Director, Strategic Partnerships & Innovation, Conde Nast) and Ed Wilson (CEO, Dreamcatcher Media).
Recess delivers the power of online programmatic media planning and buying to the offline world of live events and experiential marketing. The company’s digital marketplace enables brands and agencies to discover, research, and book with thousands of event organizers, all in one place.
In turn, advertisers are able to reach and acquire targeted customers via physical activations within the events, as well as through digital video ads on the jumbotron, and targeted social media posts from event organizers reaching event attendees before and after each event.
Recess was originally launched in 2013 by founders Deuce Thevenow and Jack Shannon as a college-focused media company, combining live event sponsorships with a digital ad network of music blogs and influencers. Yet over the years, Recess experienced how inefficient and manual the event sponsorship and experiential space was compared to digital media — with no online booking platform, media standardization, or tracking and measurement — and knew there had to be a better solution.
The company decided to pivot in 2016 to focus on building an online marketplace to standardize event sponsorship inventory; to provide upfront pricing and data for buyers; to streamline pre-event coordination; and to implement a layer of measurement that was comparable with digital.
Initially focusing on its audience of expertise, Recess launched its marketplace in 2017 to help college organizers generate more sponsorship dollars from their large, campus-funded events, such as concerts, carnivals, charity events, movie screenings, and campus traditions.
Since then, hundreds of universities — including The Ohio State University, New York University, Yale University, UC-Berkeley and more — have uploaded thousands of events that have reached millions of Gen-Z attendees. From there, Recess has connected these event organizers with brands including Allstate, KIND, Lyft, Nestle, Viacom and Vital Proteins as well as agencies including MKTG and Fuse Marketing.
What the company is now discovering is that brand and agencies partners are often acquiring customers more efficiently via the Recess marketplace than their digital spends. Leveraging this shift, Recess is aiming to transition the entire live event, experiential and sponsorship industry away from an impression- and reach-based measurement scheme to a performance-based model: tied to measurable goals like sales lift, customer acquisition, retail traffic, and other ROI-driven measurements.
Recess is free for buyers, with no markups or additional fees. The company simply retains a percentage of the sponsorship fees that it generates for event organizers.
Recess intends to use this latest investment round to launch its self-service platform and analytics suite, which will offer programmatic buying to brands and agencies — allowing them to reach target audiences, at scale, across thousands of events nationwide.
“Recess has achieved demonstrable success and helped meaningfully lift the performance of its customers with its technology platform in the event sponsorship space,” says investor Jordan Katz, venture partner at Founder Equity. “We are investing to expand its go-to-market team, and further enhance its product differentiation to meet the evolving demand from customers who could utilize event sponsorships as an efficient customer acquisition channel.”