Trada announces funding, opens up to the crowd

Following nearly 15 months of beta testing, Trada last week announced that it has raised $2.2 million in VC funding from the Foundry Group.

The Boulder, Colo.-based company is focused on the paid search optimization space, and has created a crowd-sourced marketplace in which small and mid-sized businesses can get certified search experts to help improve their keyword campaigns.

“We’re trying to solve what we think is the big problem in making most people successful in paid search—the expertise gap” says Trada founder and CEO Niel Robertson. “Paid search is full of promises about ads next to keywords, but the reality is that it’s more complex. Every single keyword needs to be priced correctly, and that lends to a lot of complexity that requires level of expertise to handle.”

Trada’s beta period has included 75 customers and 300 searchers, with an average of 24 searchers per ad campaign. Each of the searchers must be Google AdWords or SEMBO-certified, plus pass a Trada certification exam.

Robertson says that Trada raised its money from Foundry over two rounds, with the most recent coming in September. He adds that it has turned down offers of additional capital from other investors, but could envision more funding with an outside lead if Trada expands into new areas, such as display ad search.

It’s also worth noting that this is Robertson’s third go-around with members of the Foundry team. His first startup, Service Metrics, was funded by Foundry Managing Director Brad Feld, when he was still with Softbank. His second startup, Newmerix, was funded by Feld and Seth Levine, when they were both at Softbank spinout Mobius Venture Capital.

Robertson also served as a CTO-in-residence with Mobius and as a venture partner with Fidelity Ventures. —Dan Primack