Capturing the attention of your client base, much less engaging them, is like trying to get five half-grown puppies to sit in a straight line. No matter how many times you point them to where they’re supposed to go, no matter how many treats you put in front of them, they always seem to wiggle away the second your head is turned.
One solution to the collective ADHD problem of everyone everywhere is to provide promotions and deals through your social media. While you can track how well each individual promo works, it can be harder to keep track of your entire campaign and even harder to know what your competitors are up to.
Enter Qoints, a new service from the guys at the digital agency InfiniteSM. Co-founder Cory Rosenfield explains it much, much better than I ever could in the interview below. Check it out for more knowledge on an awesome resource for you and your startup!
Give me your elevator pitch for Qoints. Go!
We’ve developed a comparative index that gives marketers the ability to measure the success of their digital promotions against their past campaigns, competitors and industry averages.
What sets Qoints apart from its competitors?
We’ve amassed a huge amount of data from years of running digital promotions through our agency InfiniteSM. As ISM, we offer a suite of white-label apps for branded contests, coupons, samples and more, so we understand that space intimately and now we’re using that information to give marketers realistic benchmarks for their campaigns.
Where’d you get the name?
Initially our focus was on the consumer side of the business so that’s where it was born – now we’re concentrating more on the data and related insights though. There are retention and loyalty benefits for brands that leverage our promotion automation tools and Qoints has a “points” and “coin” twist to it, which may or may not be the name for a future user engagement and reward program.
Who would you like to see utilizing Qoints?
Big brands use Qoints to evaluate their marketing tactics, primarily during decision time. By using the insights we provide, marketers can better understand which consumers are more likely to engage with a promotion and optimize their marketing strategies accordingly. Furthermore, they now have benchmarks to measure the success of their campaigns against. In a competitive field, it’s now a resource that can be used to measure success against both competitors and peers.
Agencies use Qoints as a measuring stick to provide context for the data they provide to their brand clients. In addition, Qoints can be used to validate proposed strategies, highlight successful campaigns and leverage the findings to justify increased client budgets. Finally, agencies can use Qoints to gather micro-feedback on their past campaigns and apply it to further optimize future campaign strategies.
Third party promotion automation, marketing suites and loyalty tools will leverage Qoints’ 3rd party partner program. Utilizing our API, partners can tag the key data points they track and in real-time we are able to score the campaigns their clients are running. Now these partners are able to make sense of the data they collect and prove to their clients that they should spend more on the service offering.
For consumers, it’s a web application that filters the noise of brand advertising. Users are able to seek out exclusive opportunities from the brands they love. Coupons, contests, samples and more! Our BETA launch is coming this September.
What’s your background? Is this your first startup?
This is my third official start-up but the first time I am seeking capital as a new business. Almost five years ago now I founded InfiniteSM along with my Qoints co-founder Harris Maxwell. ISM is still active today, serving as a full-fledged digital agency with a roster of partner agencies that we support. They offer our suite of promotional applications along with our custom development services to their brand clients, which is how we were able to build our base of data points and user profiles for the Qoints index. InfiniteSM has worked on campaigns for brands such as Ford, General Mills, Energizer and Loblaw.
Prior to InfiniteSM, Harris and I started a student marketing/promotions business while in school that was fueled by university parties. We successfully leveraged social media to build a reputable brand across southwestern Ontario university campuses and secured partnerships with Rogers, Monster Energy and other student-focused brands. We built a team of over 100 student ambassadors and successfully spun-off a student hiring agency that represented a number of venues for staffing security, bartenders, photographers, dancers, and other positions.
I studied BBA at Wilfred Laurier University for two years. I was extremely bored at school and decided to pack up the books. I got lucky and landed a job as the Financial Controller for a music marketing agency where I was responsible for all major financial aspects of the 40+ person company. This gave me a wealth of hands-on business experience I would never have gotten elsewhere.
Following my 18-month stint missing my friends at school, I went back to Waterloo to study Construction Engineering at Conestoga College which is when Harris and I started our business together. During my time at school I served my fraternity (Alpha Epsilon Pi) as the President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary at different times. Leading this 60+ member organization provided more practical experiences along with networking opportunities that I could not have replicated elsewhere.
Who’s on your team?
Harris studied Art & Business at the University of Waterloo. He majored in English so he deals with a lot of front-facing material and runs the company’s day-to-day operations. The majority of our technology was built under the InfiniteSM technical team, and recently Harris and I have brought on two new technical partners to the Qoints team, Alex Zhang and Greg Mousseau of GTA Labs. Alex and Greg come from computer science backgrounds and both have experience working for major Canadian banks as well as other start-ups like Qoints.
You guys are currently participating in INcubes. How has your experience been with them?
We decided to join INcubes for two main reasons. Firstly, we felt the program structure and curriculum would help immensely in packaging our new product offering (Qoints). The other big reason we joined was we were looking to have doors open to new networks we had yet to tap into.
We came to INcubes as Qoints, a brand retention platform with big visions of tapping into brand’s media and awareness budgets. Today, we address a true pain point of the marketers and industry we know so well: how to measure and understand the mass amount of data they collect. Even further still, we’re providing the ability to learn from that data to improve future success.
I am now getting mentorship from some of the most powerful and experienced businesspeople in the country, and they are introducing me to key players in our space that are giving us the validation and traction that we need in order to succeed.
We’re hoping Demo Day in September will open up some of the right strategic partners that will finance our seed investment round, but that would honestly just be icing on the cake at this point.
Where do you see Qoints in one year’s time?
Right now we are partnering with a number of third-party tools to offer them a way to measure their customers’ data. We’re also piloting our platform with a number of brands through InfiniteSM’s partner agencies. We hope a strong percentage of these test customers will see the value in our tools and a year from now, a number of these initial test clients are paying customers. In addition, we are currently offering our indexing services to a few major brands directly as a way to prove the value of our tools and at the same time build out case studies and new brand relationships for Qoints. If these brands see value from the insights we are able to provide, a year from now they will be paying for 2-5 annual reports each.
Any advice for other startup founders out there?
I have three pieces of advice I will share.
1. Keep things simple!
The best business advice I have ever been given went as follows: “For my next business I’m going to dig holes… if the hole is too big, I’ll put some dirt back in… if the hole is too small, I will keep digging. My next business will be simple!”
2. Do one thing well, as opposed to everything poorly.
Day one I tried to do everything as InfiniteSM – our internal mentality was to say yes and become relied on. Unfortunately that backfired and totally de-valued what we were good at. Even worse, we started leaking money in areas we didn’t know. We shed our team and partnered with suppliers that are experts in their fields. We now focus on our area of expertise which is social promotions, and everything else is handled by the pros. Our profits have significantly increased as a result.
3. Make sure you are solving a problem AND that there is budget to pay for it.
This is a more recent learning I have taken from my INcubes experience. As we endeavor to scale our ISM technologies through Qoints, we quickly learned that validation was required from our future customers. I strongly suggest you don’t keep your new product a secret and instead, you tell everyone and their mother about it. True understanding of who your customer is, what value they will get from your product, and most importantly, how much value is essential to packaging your product offering and determining who you are selling to and the price you can charge for it.
Anything you’d like to add before I let you go?
We’re actively looking for Beta partners who want to make sense of the promotional data they are collecting. We would love to speak with brands, agencies and third party tools as we’re confident the Qoints index can provide value for all verticals value and for us, developing case studies so new partnerships are the primary focus for us right now.