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Austin’s Edgecase raises $7.5 million for expansion

When cosmetic maker Urban Decay wanted to enhance the way it describes the products on its website, it turned to Austin-based Edgecase.

The three-year-old software company has developed a platform that lets websites customize the product content they provide to shoppers to make it easier to find what they want.

After signing more than 20 customers — including national chains Crate & Barrel, Pier 1 and Sur La Table — Edgecase is getting ready for a new wave of growth. The company has raised a new round of $7.5 million to expand sales, services and engineering.

Austin Ventures was the lead investor in the deal, which brings the amount raised by Edgecase to $15.5 million.

Edgecase software works by allowing consumers to use their own words to describe their preferences and style, rather than having to choose from standardized categories such as color and size. Its tool understands and reacts to what consumers say they care about most and presents products based on their preferences.

“If you were to go into a store and chat with an associate, you’d draw on your 50,000 word vocabulary to explain what you were looking for,” said Susanne Bowen, Edgecase CEO. “If you were trying to have the same conversation online, you’d be limited to four words: color, size, brand and price. By enriching the product information, we help shoppers find what they really want.”

The ability to produce more targeted results is what appealed to Urban Decay, which first used Edgecase to enhance its eye shadow descriptions and is now expanding to other product lines.

“We wanted to create a more personalized online experience,” said John Perasco, Urban Decay’s assistant vice president of digital. “Edgecase took it from just your regular category listing page and made it a discovery tool. People like to interact, and they purchase more.”

Urban Decay said the software has allowed it to boost conversion rates – the percentage of people who actually buy something after browsing – by 16 percent for desktop users and 150 percent for mobile users.

The idea for the software came from cognitive science research conducted by Edgecase co-founder Garrett Eastham at Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science. The research focused on human computer interaction and understanding the impact of different computer interfaces on the decision-making process.

Edgecase will use the new funding to expand its sales and services teams and accelerate product development, Bowen said. The 45-person company plans to add more than 20 workers in the next year, she said.

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