Startups to Watch: Spoonity compiles data while rewarding customers

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Mark Brownlee
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Max Bailey is hoping to get rid of that ratty old piece of cardboard your barista is still punching a hole in every time you buy a coffee.

Spoonity co-founders, Max Bailey and Myron Gomes

The co-founder of Ottawa-based loyalty rewards program Spoonity has developed a program that allows clients to build up their rewards simply by swiping a key card or tapping their smartphone every time they make a purchase.

But the new technology does more than just reward customers who have been coming in to buy the same latte every day for the past few years. It also allows businesses to learn more about their clientele.

Part of Spoonity’s service involves compiling data about what customers are buying, when they’re coming in and how much they’re spending.

This, says Mr. Bailey, allows service-based businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops to reach out to individual customers with programs targeted at their individual preferences.

Baristas at a coffee shop can, for example, instantly know a customer’s name and favourite order even if they’ve never served them before.

Another benefit is more efficient operations.

Knowing more information about when particular items are likely to be purchased allows store owners to marshall more resources towards, for example, having more scones available on a Tuesday morning.

Mr. Bailey says he wants to expand this area of the business in the coming years.

Merchants are looking for ways to engage with their customers … (and) with the introduction of new technologies, we’re seeing more opportunity to do it in different ways. Max Bailey, Spoonity co-founder

He anticipates the company will take in as much money as it spends before the end of the summer of this year. That is thanks largely to a new nationwide contract with Pita Pit that will grow revenues from $100,000 to $2 million a year.

However, as much success as the company has had – Mr. Bailey says one of the company’s main clients, Bridgehead, has seen its customer rewards program double under Spoonity – there are always concerns about staying on top of new technology.

Not staying quick on your feet in adapting could leave a company like his behind, Mr. Bailey notes.

There are also more competitors – such as Belly and FiveStars – in the United States that would make an eventual expansion to the south more difficult.

Founded: 2011

Local head count: Seven

Funding: $250,000, from IRAP, Coral CEA and bootstrapping

Selected client list: Bridgehead, Pita Pit, Cher-Mere

Description: Key tag and smartphone-based customer rewards programs

Organizations: Cher-Mere

Geographic location: Ottawa, United States

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