Is it truly possible to measure the effectiveness of your campaign, within your venue, with your customers? Can you get their opinions real-time, with no inconvenience? You could use the old fashioned, yet cumbersome pencil and paper survey… Boring and predictable. Sam Fresco of Clock thought so too, so he took this a step further, using mobile technology to engage with the customer real-time. We chatted to him further to find out more.

 

Can you describe what your business offers? How long have you been working on this project?

SwipeStation is a physical platform that connects behaviour of consumers both on and offline. As our platform is situated in-venue, it closes the customer loop by tracking campaigns from inception through to redemption and provides a full understanding of customer engagement. Our clients include: Red Bull, Empire Cinemas, Yates’s and Butlins. We’ve been working on this business for around two years, building it out from research and development from within a digital agency into a limited trading company in its own right.

And your background? How did you come to be an entrepreneur?

I graduated university with a 2:1 in Linguistics and have a ton of work experience in the ad industry. After graduating I was signed on for a three month placement as a Social Media executive at a digital agency. Over the course of three years I meandered from there through to a marketing role and then out to strategy and business development which lead me into a research and development product role. I borrowed money from the agency to get the product off the ground and sold it to Red Bull who then backed a pilot. Once we had their buy in, we had a business almost overnight – the likes of Pepsi were asking for the same technology! We registered as a limited trading company and boot strapped off the agency’s infrastructure for a year. Once we were ready we then pitched to investors to secure over £250K which allowed us to rent office space, pay back our debts to the agency and hire our own team.

Is there anything from your childhood or background that stands out as being a motivator for you?

My upbringing is naturally a huge inspiration on my career. My father was a self-employed mechanic that ran his own garage. Seeing him work to the bone, 6 days a week and often on 24 hour recovery call made him realise he wanted something very different for me and steered me away from vocational work as much as he could – I still can’t change a tyre to this day!

However, I often saw his almost consultative approach from work expressed in every day life – from fixing a car to fixing a computer. I’d like to think a lot of this has left a mark on me and starting SwipeStation was very much a solution to a problem.

Do you have a business partner?

Yes, my business partner is Syd Nadim, who Founded the digital agency Clock as mentioned above. At 23, Syd was made redundant for the 2nd time. He was homeless and turned to the Princes Trust for a loan and he used this to start Clock. Skip forwards 15 years and we have a thriving business of 50 people delivering the design, building for the likes of The Times, Stylist and BBC. It’s a fantastic working culture that truly empowers its staff to be brilliant. Creating SwipeStation from within can be a testament to that.

I first met Syd when I originally applied for a job at one of the big magazines that Clock delivers online and I got a little lost along the way. Turning up in my three piece suit straight down from university in the lake district, I asked for ‘Sayed’ (rookie mistake) and was taken to the pub for my interview. My first question was what startup business ideas I had and needless to say, 3 or 4 hours later I had secured a 3 month internship to prove my worth. I guess sometimes it is really about how nimble you can be to embrace the very best in any eventuality.

How did the idea for this venture come about?

Essentially, one of our clients had an issue. They were failing at driving customer satisfaction survey responses as the experience demanded that people go home, print something out, then bring it back in, which disrupts their natural customer journey. We suggested that if we could embrace the customer journey in-venue with a printer, scanner and screen, we can verify the promotion there and then, knowing who scanned when and where.

When the client showed interest, we looked up the components on the internet and got some samples delivered which we stitched together and dressed up in a poly-boarded box with gaffa tape! We unveiled this to the client who gave us the go-ahead and introduced us to Red Bull. Interestingly, Red Bull knew who their customers were so they wanted to see if they could use our components to drive sales of their new Special Editions range without cannibalising their current sales.

We conducted the customer satisfaction survey all on mobile, generating a unique code in-browser, which the customer could redeem for their reward instantly, as well as a ‘Scan and see if you’ve won’ competition for every promo product of Red Bull sold.

Sam Fresco 2

What makes your business different from your competitors?

We’re unique in that we’re an invention! So there are no real competitors in our space. Any payment or EPOS system for example we can partner with to deliver a more powerful solution together. This makes our space really exciting – we’re talking to everyone in the hospitality, retail, leisure and FMCG sectors, taking the product to market in slightly different, creative ways for each so that their offering is bespoke. It’s a really different way of doing things.

What is your vision for the next 3 to 6 years for your company and product?

With a physical product we’re really looking to get as many machines out to market as quickly as possible and develop a range extension. In three years we hope to have units abroad, creating a global offering which makes a really compelling network so things like advertising and more creative campaigns become.

 

Update: 

SwipeStation has recently secured a deal with Saracens Rugby Club in Hertfordshire to pilot its technology, allowing users to pre-pay for food and drinks to reduce queueing. We wish the team well in this new partnership.

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