I don't know about you, but I refuse to carry most loyalty cards in my wallet because they take up way too much space and most often I forget they are there. I love this idea that Gillian Shaw wrote about in the Vancouver Sun in regards to replacing all these cards with a simple electronic code. No I'm interested.
Vancouver startup Reward-Loop is putting a high-tech twist on customer loyalty programs, replacing that wallet full of cards and stamps with an electronic code.
Instead of fumbling for the right card when you buy a cup of coffee so you'll eventually get a free cup, under RewardLoop's system you'd just have to scan a QR code on your smartphone. The code automatically credits loyalty points or stamps to your account, dispensing with the need to carry around cards for multiple businesses and services.
Nigel Malkin, RewardLoop/ Photos by Glenn Baglo, Vancouver Sun
"Nobody likes to carry loyalty cards," Nigel Malkin, CEO and co-founder of RewardLoop, a graduate of Vancouver's Wavefront wireless incubator program and winner of the BC Technology Industry Association's most promising startup award. "People who do have loyalty cards forget to carry them.
"This is a point of sale adapter, it plugs into a merchant's point of sale system."
RewardLoop is now in beta testing - Vancouver diners can try it out at Prestons restaurant - with plans for a wide-scale offering through a number of merchants and services starting in November.
For Malkin and RewardLoop co-founder Jeff LaPorte, the Entrepreneurship@Wavefront program provided the catalyst they needed to quit their day jobs and take their wireless idea from a concept to a product ready for market. During its stay at Wavefront, RewardLoop launched a pilot, raised a seed round of funding and hired three new employees.
"It's incredible being here," Malkin said of Wavefront's offices downtown, where startups get office space, wireless phones for testing, help from mentors and other support. "We are surrounded by so many other wireless companies.
"Anytime there is something we can't figure out, there is someone around who can help us."
After a successful launch year with eight companies, Entreprenuership@Wavefront, which is funded by the BC Innovation Council, is expanding to 12 companies. Deadline for applications is Aug. 26 with successful applicants to be announced Sept. 7. Details and applications are online at the Wavefront web site here.
Vancouver also saw the launch of another accelerator program this week, GrowLab, an initiative funded by Canadian and Silicon Valley investors, many who are taking part in this week's Grow Conference for tech entrepreneurs.
While Wavefront doesn't take equity in the companies in its accelerator program, GrowLab is getting a stake between eight and nine per cent in the companies it is fostering. In exchange, the startups get about $25,000 in funding along with training and mentorship, with three months in Vancouver and one month in San Francisco.
"We have pretty much every Canadian VC [venture capitalist] as funders," said Boris Wertz of W Media Ventures, which is among VCs behind the initiative.
Five companies are in the first cohort, two from Vancouver, one from Toronto, one from Romania and one from Philadelphia.
"We are trying to create more companies, more entrepreneurs in the city," said Wertz.
Wertz said the investors in GrowLab, which has raised $2.3 million or enough money to keep it running for four years, see it as a way to encourage Vancouver tech talent to stay here instead of leaving for jobs elsewhere.
"These guys see it as an investment in the ecosystem," said Wertz. "It's creating a startup academy, a startup university that is going to train the next generation of entrepreneurs."
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