Lumanu, a startup with offices in Milwaukee and Oakland, California, has closed on a $1.7 million round of seed funding, which includes follow-on investment from financial services and life insurance giant Northwestern Mutual.

In April 2018, Northwestern Mutual was the lead investor in a $1 million round of seed funding for Lumanu, which has developed a platform where brands can securely pay to amplify their content through a marketing influencer’s social media account. As a result of Northwestern Mutual’s initial investment, Lumanu received office space inside Cream City Labs, an innovation lab located in Northwestern Mutual’s downtown Milwaukee headquarters.

Other investors in the recent round of funding include Sheboygan-based food manufacturer Johnsonville LLC; Sachse Family Fund, a Sheboygan-based investment fund; and Martine Reardon, former Macy’s chief marketing officer and current National Retail Federation senior adviser.

Company leaders at Lumanu plan to use the funding to integrate with additional platforms like TikTok, a smartphone app for creating and sharing short videos, and also for building machine-learning capabilities to generate insights on “what types of content deliver the most measurable lift in purchase intent across a few key verticals,” namely fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and consumer packaged goods, according to the company. To date, Lumanu has worked with more than 100 brands, including M.Gemi, Rent the Runway, Benefit Cosmetics and Quip.

“Even the best influencer content is meaningless if it isn’t being seen by the right consumers enough times throughout their purchase journey,” Tony Tran, Lumanu CEO, said in a statement. “We created Lumanu to address huge issues in the influencer space around lack of transparency, measurability, and scale. Lumanu is uniquely positioned with our proprietary access to brand, retailer, and influencer first-party-data to give marketers complete control over the distribution of their influencer content through media channels.”

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