FARMINGTON HILLS (WWJ) — Michigan’s largest private equity firm, Beringea LLC, Monday announced a $3 million investment in Freeosk Inc., a marketing services company with operations in St. Joseph and Chicago.

Proceeds from the financing will be used to purchase capital equipment, fund additional staffing, install the Freeosk system in a major national retailer, and provide further product development.

Chicago-based First Analysis participated alongside Beringea in the $6 million Series A funding round.

Freeosk is a proprietary marketing services platform that offers consumers a fast and fun way to receive free samples of new products wherever they shop, play and explore. Via a network of interactive kiosks that automatically distribute free samples, Freeosk aims to improve current product sampling solutions by increasing consumer conversion rates while providing deeper insights to retail and manufacturer partners about how shoppers discover and adopt new products.

Freeosk has orchestrated pilot programs in several retail outlets and is contracted to introduce the concept nationwide later this year.

“Freeosk and the engagement data it measures offers a unique and compelling value proposition to retailers, consumer packaged goods manufacturers, and shoppers at a time when ROI of marketing programs has become increasingly important,” said Michael Gross, managing director at Beringea. “The company enjoys first mover advantage, a proprietary technology platform, and an established entry point into one of the world’s largest retailers.”

Added Jim Macdonald, managing director at First Analysis: “We’re excited to become part of the Freeosk story. Giving major brands an opportunity to engage with consumers in an in-store setting and then leverage that interaction with data, Internet, and mobile connectivity is hugely powerful for brands and retailers.”

And Freeosk President Matt Eichorn said, “This investment provides the capital for Freeosk to take a major step forward in becoming a leader in how shoppers adopt new products, but we’re equally pleased to gain the support and expertise of two respected partners in Beringea and First Analysis. We hope to benefit greatly from their extensive experience and domain knowledge.”

Founded in 1988, Beringea LLC ihas offices in Farmington Hills and London, England. The company invests in companies in health care and life sciences, clean technology, advanced manufacturing, media, Internet technologies and specialized consumer products.

First Analysis was founded in 1985 and has invested more than $700 million across 12 funds in three fund families. First Analysis invests in health care, IT applications and outsourced services, clean tech and infrastructure. Its flexible approach targets investing $3-10 million as lead investor or as a syndicate partner who brings valuable perspective to the table.


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