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Measuring engagement in venues is tough, especially when they're not ticketed. Think your local pub for example.

This week I caught up with Sam Fresco, co-founder and director of SwipeStation, which allows for advertising and vouchering from a terminal in-venue.

Fresco launched the start-up at 23, following previous roles at Top 100 digital agency Clock. I asked him about the product and his journey.

In one sentence, what is your product/service? 

SwipeStation is an innovative in-venue device that tracks campaigns from inception through to redemption, providing a full understanding of customer engagement.

What problem(s) does it solve?

The product is an industry-changing concept as it finally enables retailers to ‘close the voucher loop’. This being, consumers are able to view vouchers in-venue on a smartphone but often unable to redeem on-the-spot due to needing to print and the trades’ need to verify and manage the vouchers.

The ‘aha’ moment for SwipeStation dawned when we realised how creative the campaigns can become when a screen, printer and scanner work in conjunction with smart phones and/or printed media.

The device embraces the customer journey to allow for instant validation, management and data whilst unclogging the point of sale.

What are your immediate goals?

To build brand recognition and adoption as well as scale to meet demand, both from a resource and technology perspective.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building the tech or your team?

For all of us, this was our first foray into the world of hardware. Sourcing the right technology from the right suppliers at the right price for the right solution was critical and not always a straightforward task.

Our first iteration included a webcam for a scanner, which had a polarised camera lens, blue-tacked on and a £1 USB light dangling behind it – we’ve come a long way since then!

We’re trying to operate as a lean start-up, doing more with less. For us that meant sourcing the very best young talent and helping nurture them to grow into really powerful assets to the team. 

How will the company make money?

SwipeStation works on a weekly or event-based rental model. We charge for setting up a campaign and offer support to meet every need. Our ideal campaigns last eight to 12 weeks or more and we can demonstrate real return on investment through the campaigns and case studies we've done already.

sam fresco

Who is in your team?

We’re a small team but growing fast. Currently the team comprises the co-founders plus our latest hires in marketing and business development. In addition, we’re building a network of resources in the UK and around the world to take advantage of some interesting opportunities.

We also have an engineer who manages the physical product, does site surveys and installations. He's a busy boy.

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

In the short-term it’s very much about driving adoption, but ultimately we want to be synonymous with in-venue innovation. We're looking for at least 200 units to be deployed in the first year and 500+ in the second.

Saying that, we could land a single deal with one of the bigger venues that means we need to scale even faster; we've got plans ready in case that happens.

Long term, we're looking to build a business with strong annuity revenue and happy clients that continue finding innovative ways to engage with their customers via SwipeStation.

Ultimately we are also building a network of screens that can be used to advertise on a micro or macro level with all SwipeStation customers and end-users benefiting from being part of the network. The potential here for unobtrusive but useful, targeted advertising bolstered by customer insight is huge.

Other than your own, what are your favourite websites / apps / tools?

Where do I even begin… well here’s some I simply couldn’t live without:  

  • Honey (Chrome Extension) - the best thing since sliced bread (checks the site you’re on for the available promo codes - bloody brilliant).
  • CloudApp - has sped up general sharing ten-fold.
  • MinimalFolio - I will never meet a client again without this in my armoury.
  • Yummly - finally a cooking app that makes sense to me!
  • Expensify - OCR (Optical Character Recognition) those receipts to slim down on chunky wallets.
  • Slack.com - imagine a world of indexed and archived message history as well as searchable files, completely free and such a treat to use.
  • Acompli - having a tab in your email app for recent files sent and received? Genius.  

With notable mentions to Nimble.com, Yplan and ToutAp, all of which make my day-to-day life that much simpler. 

Ben Davis

Published 2 July, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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