Marketing Technology

Former ExactTarget Exec Launches Backstroke, Reimagining AI Messaging

The generative AI messaging platform is announcing its launch and recent funding led by High Alpha

Backstroke is announcing the launch of its generative AI messaging platform that’s set to revolutionize email, SMS, mobile push, and customer marketing for B2C brands. Backed by a $2M seed round co-led by venture firms High Alpha and Ground Game Ventures, and with participation from Allos Ventures. Backstroke combines fresh technology with seasoned experience, presenting a significant opportunity in the marketing tech landscape.

Backstroke leverages a vast dataset from over 10,000 brands, tracking and tagging millions of messages – and their performance – in more than 200 different ways. This deep data analysis, which has taken nearly three years to acquire, powers Backstroke’s AI to generate marketing content that drives up to 64% more revenue per send than human copywriters. Early customers include ecommerce brands like Pearl iZUMi, Nathan Sports, Lyssé and The Porch Swing Company.

The company is led by CEO and Founder R. J. Talyor and Lead Data Scientist and Founder Allyson Talyor, Ph.D., a husband and wife duo. Before starting Backstroke, R. J. Talyor was one of the first 50 employees at email marketing trailblazer ExactTarget, where he led messaging product teams through the company’s $2.5B acquisition by Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) in 2012. R. J. later founded Pattern89, a creative AI platform that was acquired by Shutterstock, Inc. (NYSE: SSTK) in 2021.

“We’ve seen the movie before with ExactTarget, and now we’re ready to rewrite the script with generative AI,” said R. J. Talyor, Backstroke CEO and Founder. “Legacy marketing tech is behind — it’s too complex and not built for mass personalization. The industry incumbents are ‘Frankensteining’ gen AI features into their platforms. Backstroke is native to these new AI technologies which gives our customers a significant advantage.”

“Generative AI presents a huge opportunity in the email marketing and messaging space,” said High Alpha Founding Partner Eric Tobias. “The company’s speed to market and quick customer traction demonstrate that a platform like Backstroke is inevitable. Someone is going to win, and we think our long history in the space, combined with a world-class founding team, gives us a significant advantage.”

Doug Bertram, Director of E-Commerce at Pearl iZUMi and one of Backstroke’s first customers said, “The bottleneck to truly personalized CRM marketing has always been human limitations on content production. Partnering with Backstroke is a huge step forward in automation, allowing us to deliver more delightful, personalized experiences to our customers.”

Backstroke’s launch event, featuring eight-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Matt Biondi, will take place on June 21, 2024, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. in Indianapolis.

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