3 December 2018
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey and how Pointvoucher began?
Like lots of entrepreneurs I started my career in the corporate sector. First at L’Oréal then at Nykredit in wealth management and later in business finance. At Nykredit I developed an interest in funding businesses, fascinated by the drive and struggles of the business owners who required financing. In my free time I built business networking groups, something that has later served me well. Over the years I co-founded a couple of tech start-ups such as optimization of clothing measurements and a service that declutters your email inbox. However, as is often the case, I never left my comfortable corporate job to fully pursue my dream.
I finally did quit my job and moved to Madrid where I joined a Danish start up called Miinto, an online marketplace for a clothing store, started by the founders of JustEat. It was a new reality: working in Spain with the challenges of limited capital, human resources and no brand recognition. It makes you humble, and your tenacity gets tested every day. This is also what makes success so rewarding.
My journey continued as global sales Director for a light design company. It was there that a business partner introduced me to the idea that has now become Pointvoucher. I instantly knew this would be an exciting industry and a business model worth pursuing, so I joined as a Co-founder. In casual mobile gaming, made famous by games like Candy Crush, Angry Bird and Subway Surfers, we saw a space for brands to take advantage of the huge engagement games offer, and at the same time reward users for their loyalty. It’s a win-win for brands and consumers.
What do you aim to achieve with Pointvoucher?
We have created a ‘plug and play’ platform that makes it easy and affordable for companies to join the world of mobile gaming as a marketing and branding tool.
We have so far built and published 7 games and they all run on the same point structure that is tied to our voucher platform. This in turn drives footfall to a large selection of our voucher partners. As our portfolio of games grows, we’ll be offering an increasingly powerful game engine in the eco-system supported by strong cross marketing that benefits all our partners. We’re creating at the same time a selection of fun, free-to-play games for our user base. Ultimately, we will be releasing a software development kit which will give 3rd party mobile developers access to the platform.
We are also expanding our network of city games around the world. This is a continuation of a very successful game we built with City of London to promote the city to tourists. With our game mechanics we are able to solve pressing issues for many global cities like over-tourism and dispersion at peak hours.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
We are the only game producer to build such extensive branded games which truly harvest the benefits of large scale engagement. On average our games have +3 hours of engagement per user which is difficult and costly to achieve through other marketing channels. Our reward platform is unique and presents a new way for brick and mortar retailers to get footfall from a digital strategy. We are doing a campaign with Westfield at the moment, which will showcase how the footfall effect works from game to store.
What are the biggest challenges that tech start-ups and early stage businesses should prepare themselves for post Brexit?
We entered London already knowing of the issues ahead, so we went against the current and arrived 18 months ago. We keep vigilant about the negotiation process and have taken a number of issues into account already. Hopefully we’ll see a minimal impact but it’s important to stay focused on issues such as data privacy and legal issues which can potentially impact our business.
The most immediate Brexit effect at Pointvoucher are concerns amongst our team about their future as a UK resident. This issue for now looks to have been addressed, however we will be closely following any developments.
The way I stay informed about the latest developments is by attending corporate and start-up events and addressing key issues. Our partnership with London & Partners, Tech Advocates and Danish-UK Chamber of Commerce keeps us informed on the latest developments.
How easy/difficult is it to raise finance in London in 2018?
We raised mainly from UK based angels. Due to attractive UK investor schemes, we received a lot of interest from investors.
We recently completed a hugely successful crowdfunding round of +£600k on Seedrs. A wonderful experience as we reached our funding target in only 12 days with more than 300 individual investors. It’s exciting to have all the investors on board who will also act as brand ambassadors going forward.
London is the perfect place for later stage financing. Our business partners have introduced us to many potential private equity investors and it’s so much easier to keep all updated on progress when you are just a short tube ride away.
What advice would you give sales people in the digital advertisement space?
I was trained in old school cold calling and I have seen it work, nevertheless, it is a ruthless strategy for all, both team and lead. If you get the right team and culture you can absolutely make it work. However, its effectiveness is fading and I have become a strong believer in social selling and the philosophy of partnerships. Finding a mutually beneficial way to truly work with your partners means you can achieve a great business for both. You must be willing to invest in relationships and even delay earnings until you prove the business case you believe in.
What I have learned about London is that people generally understand and embrace partnerships to achieve success, far more than other cultures I worked in. “Hidden” agendas are uncovered promptly and obstacles addressed quickly, which saves both partners time and resources. A deal focused culture is what I would call it.
Another way London contributes to making my job easier is by the vast number of networking opportunities available. Due to the sheer number of professionals In London, events are focused and tailored to your specific interest group. Therefore, the likelihood of meeting relevant people is far greater.
What is your view of the ADvTECH, especially in London?
With data driven processes in advertising, the requirements for marketers has dramatically shifted. Pointvoucher are in a multi-faceted space as we both produce and co-publish our games. Games are in constant innovation as is digital advertisement and of course adtech. Adtech when applied to the games arena undergoes massive change, as they search for meaningful reciprocal experiences to create customer satisfaction.
In London we are surrounded by leaders in all aspects and touch points of adtech and gaming. It’s especially great when I introduce our concept to commercial partnerships – retailers and brands alike. They are constantly put in front of the leading techs and trends so their feedback is crucial and makes us pivot our offering as we see demanded in the market.
What are some of the most exciting innovations you have come across in this space?
In mobile advertising, adtech is key to how companies communicate with their customers. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see exciting new technologies emerging.
The typical programmatic value chain will continue to persist mainly because of the powerful established players in the industry. Brands are now becoming more original in their messaging, benefiting highly targeted influencers and branded mobile game producers like ourselves.
Lately we have seen exciting and highly targeted ads on streaming services using data which benefits the consumers. We are aiming to emulate this approach, allowing us to supply correct vouchers to our users.
Obviously Augmented Reality will increasingly be a driver. It’s exciting to follow its developments and see which areas become commercially favourable and which applications are only theoretical.
How do you see the AdTech landscape developing over the next 5 years?
The most significant changes will come from the regulations imposed on data and consumers increasingly concerned about how you obtain their data and consent. I’m really excited however, about how technology can help create value in collaboration between campaigners in an Omni channel context. We at Pointvoucher have developed an exciting partnership with a leading out-of-home advertiser and together we are exploring how cross advertisements can be optimized.
Increased application of AI to marketing objectives is another interesting and game changing technology. The applications are vast, so for an SME it’s about looking for best practises and implementation to satisfy needs and measure ROI. One exciting area to mention is how AI is applied to geolocation, a feature increasingly useful to the retailers we work with.
It’s hard to talk about the future without including Blockchain which will facilitate to some extent the direct exchange between brand and users. However, to me, most models seem to look better in a whitepaper than implemented in the real world. When it does take hold it will be massive, which could be sooner than we think.