AdMass, a start-up at The Forge at McMaster, acquired by Sampler

July 20, 2023

Sampler will utilize AdMass’s technology, adding AI and User Generated Content to its product sampling platform.

The co-founders of AdMass are crediting The Forge at McMaster for scripting a new and exciting chapter in their start-up journey.

AdMass, a client at The Forge, has just been acquired by Sampler, a leading company that matches large packaged-goods firms with consumers seeking samples by mail.

AdMass helps brands, and their agencies create data-driven, user-generated content (UGC) promotions. Founded in April 2020 by CEO Yuri Kaplan and CTO Daniel Lasek, AdMass’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered software has served firms like Banana Boat and Sampler—which used it to curate UGC on its direct-to-consumer product sampling platform.

AdMass co-founders, Yuri Kaplan (left) and Daniel Lasek (right). Photo courtesy of NextAI/2023

“We launched AdMass in 2020 because we saw a huge gap in the advertising market,” says Kaplan. “AdMass is an AI-powered platform that enables brands and their agencies to create data-driven user-generated content promotions. AdMass helps brands increase their ROI by turning everyday consumers into brand advocates on social media while also improving marketing through innovative AI technology.”

The AdMass team humbly praises The Forge’s contribution to their success, recognizing the crucial role it played in supporting and guiding them over the years.

“It amazes me how much the dominos of life can fall into place,” explains Kaplan. “If I think about it, The Forge was the first accelerator that accepted us, and from there, everything fell into place. The reason I ultimately met the team at Sampler was trickled down through a number of relationships that all began with The Forge.”

Sampler plans to add AdMass’s AI and UGC capabilities to its offering as well as Kaplan and Lasek to its 50-person staff.

“It was definitely a great opportunity to bring both a great product and great talent to the team,” says Marie Chevrier, Founder & CEO of Sampler.

Founded in 2013, Sampler is known for digitizing product sampling. The startup has helped over 1,000 brands across 23 countries, reaching more than 59 million consumers. They serve a roster of big-name clients, including Procter & Gamble, Target, Kroger, L’Oréal, Nestlé, Unilever, Pepsi, and Henkel.

“What people don’t realize is that we’re also a massive data company,” says Chevrier. She adds that Sampler has amassed lots of insight into what types of products consumers care about and how specific consumers react to certain offerings.

“In our next phase of growth, a big focus for the company is to start leveraging that data to create really useful products for our brands that are outside of your typical sampling transaction,” says Chevrier.

As Sampler gears up to develop data products and applications, Chevrier says she was looking for a leader to support this work. Enter Kaplan, who is joining Sampler as product manager of data products, alongside Lasek, who is coming on as a back-end developer. The pair will help integrate AdMass’s existing tech and explore new opportunities for innovation.

“As we worked with Sampler, we realized how much our technologies could complement each others’ data-driven visions,” says Kaplan, adding that he expects the deal to amplify the work AdMass has done to date.

“AdMass and Sampler feel like a match made in heaven,” says Kaplan.

To start, Sampler plans to give its clients the ability to incorporate UGC campaigns into their sampling programs, leveraging AdMass’s tech to streamline the curation of UGC and assess consumers’ influence. As part of its broader AI roadmap, Sampler also intends to explore the application of AI to consumers’ social media profiles to identify aspects of their lifestyle based on publicly shared images—a use case the AdMass team had been working on.

According to Chevrier, these moves would give its clients additional data that could help them target a more precise audience and better inform their marketing efforts.

For his part, Lasek says that he and Kaplan are “super excited about being able to add AdMass’s AI and data-driven algorithms to Sampler’s incredible growth trajectory.”

To date, Sampler has secured a total of $13 million CAD in venture capital from a list of backers that includes BDC’s Women in Technology Fund, StandUp Ventures, MaRS IAF, and EDC. Sampler’s $4-million financing in 2020 was its last publicized funding round.

Today, Sampler’s annual revenue exceeds $10 million CAD.

Lasek too credits The Forge at McMaster.

“I first heard about The Forge from someone during a Collision conference. I knew we needed to get in. We applied and, through a set of screening questions, we received approval. Everything since joining The Forge has been a steppingstone for us. The Forge has a large network of mentors that we can tap into for advice. They have been with us throughout the entire process and are always available for us to talk to.”

The Forge is an entrepreneurial hub backed by McMaster University, catering to startups in the Hamilton, Greater Toronto, and Niagara Regions. Established in 2015, they actively engage with entrepreneurs, providing them comprehensive support in transforming their business concepts into thriving ventures. Regardless of industry, The Forge offers cohort-based programs to facilitate idea development, validation, and, ultimately, sustainable growth.

For media interviews, please contact:
Paul Fitzgerald
Publicist for AdMass and PR Mentor at The Forge at McMaster