Watch CBS News Raises $2.3 Million Series A to Bring Trust to Local Service Reviews

DETROIT -- Stik, a reviews Web site driving local referrals for professional services, announced Monday that it has closed a $2.3 million Series A financing.

The round was co-led by North Coast Technology Ventures and Detroit Venture Partners. Draper Associates, First Step Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Automation Alley also participated in the round.

Stik previously raised a $500,000 seed round led by Draper Associates.

Stik helps small companies that rely on word-of-mouth referrals acquire new business and build a reputation through the power of authentic online reviews. With more than 2.5 million recommendations and reviews, the site is a leader for online mortgage, insurance, real estate and home services reviews.

"Stik uniquely use the Facebook platform to solve several problems that plague review sites' credibility," said Nathan Labenz, co-founder of Stik. "By authenticating user actions via Facebook, we ensure that all reviews are written by real people. Moreover, we use the Facebook social graph to highlight service providers within individual consumers' personal networks."

The fundraising announcement comes on the heels of Stik's move from San Francisco to downtown Detroit's emerging technology and innovation hub. Stik will use this latest round of funding to further expand its team, which has already more than doubled in size in the four months since moving to Detroit.

"The press is wrong about Detroit," said Jay Gierak, Stik co-founder. "This is the best place in America to build a business. Millions of talented, hard working and technically trained people proudly call this city their home. Detroiters are hungry for a new opportunity, and our company is thriving as a result."

Gierak and Labenz are both from the Detroit area originally, and met while attending Harvard University. The team moved to Silicon Valley after graduation and launched in 2010.

Detroit-area investors have been eager to support the company's move to Detroit.

Josh Linkner, CEO and managing partner at Detroit Venture Partners, said the leaders of Stik "have identified a very compelling void in the market, and we believe Stik will become the dominant source for professional referrals and own the category. The company's momentum, combined with its leaders' vision and focus, will ensure Stik becomes one of the most valuable and recognized platforms online."

Linkner founded Detroit Venture Partners with partner Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans.

Despite the unconventional decision to leave San Francisco for Detroit, Bay Area investors, including Tim Draper, have continued to back the company.

"Stik is part of a wave of innovative young companies leveraging the power of the Facebook platform to build high-value applications," Draper said. "Draper Associates is thrilled to follow up on our earlier investment by participating in the current fund-raise, and we're excited to watch Jay and Nathan become local heroes as they build the company in Detroit."

Thomas Anderson, senior director at Automation Alley, Michigan's largest technology business association, explained that Detroit's growing tech scene could be a game-changer for the region: "We are a strong believer in the opportunity created by startups like Stik, who combine a disruptive idea, talented entrepreneurs, and the passion necessary to create a successful venture.  We look forward to working with them as the business grows."

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