28 Oct The SwipeStation story: From idea to reality
Solving challenges for brands
Lets rewind two years, Sam Fresco was a budding entrepreneur with the desire to solve real world challenges for brands. As a digital engagement specialist at Clock, SwipeStation’s sister company, Sam was exposed to the every day struggle clients faced around connecting digital and offline and closing the loop on campaigns.
The inspiration for SwipeStation came from solving a real world challenge, one where digital provided the right in-venue verification. Measuring engagement in venues is tough, especially when they’re not ticketed. Brands, venues and retailers alike are struggling 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 Sam and his business partner Syd came when they realised how creative campaigns can become when a screen, printer and scanner work in conjunction with smart phones and/or printed media. Enter SwipeStation, the in-venue device that tracks campaigns from inception through to redemption, providing a full understanding of customer engagement. It offers brands an innovative solution to connect real-world and digital consumer behaviour seamlessly and it enables consumers to redeem promotions in an instant, secure and appealing way.
SwipeStation is born
The name SwipeStation was born out of necessity and its functionality. The product was something that could accept scanning from multiple devices. Sam was adamant he wanted to steer away from the words scanning and kiosk but really wanted a name that was alliterative and could roll off the tongue. SwipeStation as a name felt a natural and memorable fit. Similar to the idea, it just came to Sam’s mind and stuck.
Sam used his skills and experience from working at Clock to hone the idea further. The early days focused on developing a robust business plan and getting buy-in from Clock stakeholders. This was no small task when it meant taking valuable time and resource away from core business activity. With hard work and determination, plus some arts and crafts, SwipeStation developed its first working prototype; constructed of gaffer tape, off the shelf items and polyboard. This opened the doors to the myriad of opportunities that the product could support.
With a working prototype and name, the concept was pitched to some big name brands. This included the likes of Red Bull, Pepsi, Empire Cinemas and Yates Pub Group. As a completely unique proposition, SwipeStation was able to provide innovative and flexible solutions to a wide range of business needs spanning verticals. This embraced the adoption of new product ranges, customer engagement, up-sell and cross-sell.
All campaigns delivered exceptional results far exceeding everyone’s expectations. For consumers, SwipeStation provided new and enticing interactions in-venue adding to the overall experience and for the brands it built a stronger affiliation with their target audience as well as delivering on campaign objectives. These pilots enabled the product to adapt based on feedback, making future iterations more encompassing of client and consumer needs. Over time the units have evolved in shape, size, design and functionality to suit its environment. These early partnerships demonstrated the flexibility, scope and appeal of SwipeStation, providing an important stepping-stone in the company’s growth.
From strength to strength
Sam moved his focus full time to SwipeStation in Jan 2013, becoming the company’s first full time employee. With some big name brands under its belt and a strong collection of case studies, SwipeStation won its first permanent contract with Butlins in April 2014. This win was coupled with securing funding of more than £300,000 from two key investors valuing the company at £1.25 million. The investment provided a huge vote of confidence from two experienced businessmen who share the company vision and want to make it a reality. The cash injection would be used to continue the growth trajectory and get the brand exposure needed. This included bringing on new hires in business development and marketing
The journey so far has had its fair share of money, sweat and tears to get SwipeStation to where it is today. Building a business from ground-up is no small feat, set-backs and eye-openers are all part of the ride. Yet the growth of the business and the momentum so far, demonstrates the sheer versatility of what SwipeStation can offer and proves that two year down the line SwipeStation is no way defined by what its created.
And so the story continues, SwipeStation has quickly grown from one guy’s idea to a team’s big reality. The short terms focus remains on growth and driving adoption. Ultimately, the plan is to build out a network for consumers and brands alike becoming synonymous with in-venue innovation. Here’s to the future!