Behind the Term Sheet: imagino’s €25M Series A

Cathay Innovation
Cathay Innovation
Published in
7 min readJun 3, 2024

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A key enabler of the GenAI rush building the customer data backbone for AI-driven marketing

By: Marion Gregoire, Colombe Moinet, Bruno Delahaye, Jaclyn Hartnett

We are in the midst of a genAI gold rush. Just like the 49ers, flocking to California in hopes of striking gold, businesses today have seen a glimpse of the potential of AI and are rapidly developing and deploying solutions to compete over the modern day consumer. But only those properly equipped will succeed.

In 1849, key enablers of the gold rush were necessities like shovels, picks or other tools to help miners extract valuable gold from the fertile ground. Today, key enablers look a little different — for genAI, it is the ability to curate high-quality data and reach customers efficiently that will be absolutely mandatory for businesses or brands to unlock value.

With this in mind, we’re thrilled to announce our latest investment in imagino — leading its €25M Series A alongside henQ. imagino is the customer experience platform founded by the all-star team behind Neolane (now Adobe Campaign), the Paris-based conversational martech company acquired by Adobe for $600M back in 2013.

Co-founders Stéphane Dehoche (CEO), Thomas Boudalier (CTO) and Arnaud Chapis (COO) have come together again, combining a cutting edge software solution that answers today’s core customer need with the GTM playbook that built one of the most successful French B2B marketing SaaS companies to date. But this time, the mission is bigger — providing a customer data platform (CDP) and a campaign management solution designed to connect, unify and activate customer data for marketers in the AI age.

imagino co-founders Arnaud Chapis (COO), Thomas Boudalier (CTO) & Stéphane Dehoche (CEO)

At Cathay Innovation, we’re seeing AI take hold in industries across the spectrum from consumer and retail to finance, healthcare, energy, mobility and so on. We believe CDPs will be essential to the AI revolution. We also believe that imagino has the potential to be a key enabler of the GenAI rush by building the backbone of AI-powered marketing and customer experience. Here’s why…

The Market: AI, CDP & Campaign Automation

With the advent of AI, customer expectations continue to rise. There’s no longer any excuses — brands must provide customized experiences for each consumer or risk irrelevance.

AI-powered marketing campaigns have emerged as a means to meet the increasing demand for customer personalization, both in terms of targeting as well as content. But regardless of a company’s AI maturity, there are two foundational elements required to fully understand and deliver personal customer experiences:

  1. A granular, readily available overview of customers including online and offline profiles and behaviors — making CDPs a must have*
  2. The ability to orchestrate communications across channels to efficiently guide the customer — hence the need for Campaign Management tools*

Easier said than done. Today, businesses face an increasingly complex data marketing ecosystem with the expansion of digital channels increasing the number of consumer touchpoints combined with an ever evolving environment (e.g., end of 3rd party cookies) along with changes to the regulatory framework and customer expectations (e.g., consents).

What does this mean for organizations?

  1. No unified customer view readily available and actionable: customer data remains siloed between various marketing tools with no reconciliation between offline and online behaviors.
  2. No actual personalization: data-driven segmentations are often outdated or partial and inaccessible to marketing and business teams
  3. No proper reporting: decision-making is hindered by the absence of a single reliable source for KPIs and the need to monitor multiple, often conflicting dashboards.

The massive trends around AI, personalization and the data marketing ecosystem are in turn fueling the growth of two large, complementary markets: the CDP market and the campaign automation market.

The CDP market: customer data platforms (CDPs) are software systems that centralize customer data from multiple sources to create a unified, comprehensive database — they are a must have for marketers in the age of AI. The market has seen rapid growth driven by genAI, the need for better data utilization in the face of disappearing third-party cookies and robust EU cloud market growth.

CDP was a $5B market in 2023 and is anticipated to grow to $28B by 2028 (source).

The campaign automation market: Campaign automation refers to the use of software and technology to plan, execute, manage and analyze marketing campaigns automatically — a requirement for marketers to streamline efforts and deliver more personalized, timely communications to target audiences. The market is ripe for disruption by more modern stacks and a lack of modern enterprise-grade solutions.

Campaign automation was a $5.2B market in 2022 and projected to grow to $9.5B by 2027 (source).

Enter imagino: customer experience built for the AI age

imagino, founded in France in 2017, is a Composable Experience Platform (CXP) that includes a CDP along with a Campaign Management Platform. Its CDP efficiently aggregates, unifies and enriches customer data from various sources, enhancing better segmentation and activation for marketing campaigns.

What makes imagino stand out in the market?

It’s a proper, dedicated CDP platform with enterprise-grade capabilities. It allows users to access a true 360-degree view of the customer — integrating not only online data, but offline data as well. Depending on the data maturity of the customer, it does this through either a large number of connectors or interacting directly with data ecosystems (e.g., Snowflake). Of note, their solution enables data virtualization, meaning there’s no physical duplication of data (which comes with higher risks and costs).

While imagino can provide an end-to-end solution, its product is modular with each building brick working independently. This allows businesses or brands to choose the right parts (or all) of the solution that will help them create flexible, tailored digital experiences that can scale and adapt to evolving customer needs. It also means that Imagino can easily evolve its product offering to include things like consent management, recommendation, scores and (of course) an AI Co-pilot.

imagino has gained impressive traction in the last few years, particularly in France and the UK, winning over customers from incumbents thanks to its flexibility, modern architecture, technical approach and overall better time to value. With a robust technical architecture and a user-friendly UI/UX, imagino appeals to both marketing and IT / data teams, enabling organizations to address specific business needs efficiently and effectively.

Lastly, there’s the team — the same team that built, scaled and orchestrated the 2013 sale of Neolane to Adobe. The imagino team is exceptionally well-equipped to develop such a product, boasting extensive careers in marketing software and a proven track record of scaling marketing SaaS companies internationally with successful exits. Their deep experience and networks have attracted top talent across the world and offers some unfair advantages: they know the playbook and are ready to replicate it with greater ambition — taking over the CDP + campaign management market.

imagino co-founders Thomas Boudalier, Arnaud Chapis & Stéphane Dehoche

Parting Thoughts

When meeting Stéphane for the first time over 15 years ago, we were stricken by the drive of the entire Neolane team — laser focused, with a clear vision, on a shared mission that couldn’t be derailed. And it wasn’t. Illustrated by the massive success of Neolane.

Fast forward to today, we see that same focus, energy and mastery of the market in the imagino team, but perhaps even stronger — dedicated to building a powerful tool that transforms data into actions and creates personalized, sustainable and seamless customer experiences.

At Cathay Innovation, one of our core principles is having a “solution provider mindset” — meaning we strive to help our portfolio companies, investors, strategic partners and ecosystem at large solve for real needs. This could mean tapping our global teams (from Paris to innovation hubs across Europe, US and Asia) with local market expertise to help startups with international expansion, sharing deep insights on practical AI applications from experts or collaborating with our dedicated ecosystem of large corporations to bring the latest innovations to real world industries. This is our laser focus and passion.

We are thrilled to join the imagino team on this exciting leg of their journey — as the company looks to build on its solid foundation in France with further expansion into the UK and a US launch. We look forward to supporting this ambitious startup as it scales and builds what we believe can be the backbone of the new age of AI-powered marketing.

Interested in joining the imagino team? Check-out available positions below:

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Cathay Innovation
Cathay Innovation

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