Rewinr: “Monetisation is what ultimately defines success and sustainability”
Rewinr is a mobile rewards network for brands, retailers and app owners that replaces ads with in-app rewards. Fresh off a successful pitch at TechPitch 4.5 on 4 October 2016, we caught up with co-founder Sahil Sethi to find out about the Rewinr business model, how it has developed, and their plans for taking it forward.
-Sahil, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your professional story?
I have a degree in Computer Science from City University and have worked in financial services, focusing on product development. I have always been attracted to start-ups and was one of the first of my peers to take the entrepreneurship module when it was introduced as part of my degree back in 2006. It’s taken me some time to circle back, but last year I had a desire to start up a social enterprise to help people find and shop from ethical businesses that are giving back to society. Whilst looking for a team to help me develop the tech behind it, I bumped into Hatim at an event, who was looking for a co-founder for Rewinr. I got his team to develop the site for my social enterprise (www.besuper.today) and whilst we were working on this, we realised that we work quite well together and agreed to partner on Rewinr.
-Tell us how the idea for Rewinr began and evolved. Was there a particular experience that led you to spotting the market gap?
Hatim and his team have been providing tech and marketing consultancy to other start-ups for over five years and during this time he realized that making apps is easy, but marketing and eventual monetisation is the real challenge. Monetisation is what ultimately defines success and sustainability, and most start-ups fail on this. They fail to get their word out in a cost-effective way and once a user lands on their app, they fail to keep them engaged and entice them to come back. The idea of Rewinr was born after seeing the start-ups he helped struggle with these issues and ruin their user experience by peppering their screens with ads.
-What is Rewinr and how does it work?
Our guiding philosophy for brands is that they should always provide something of value to their potential customers and for us, in advertising, this means the replacement of ads with rewards. In a nutshell, Rewinr is a mobile rewards network for brands, retailers and app owners that aims to make mobile app advertising a rewarding – rather than annoying – experience by replacing ads with in-app rewards. The rewards are sponsored by brands and can be real rewards like free coffee and cookies from Subway, virtual rewards like £20 off your first shop at Ocado or £40 off your first order at from Hello Fresh, or Rewinr currency that can be sponsored by brands who do not have any rewards to give away. We run targeted reward distribution campaigns for brands by serving users of our publisher apps with these rewards whilst taking advantage of gamification techniques to increase engagement. These rewards are aggregated in our own app, which acts as a wallet for redeeming and exchanging the rewards for something that they find more interesting. Users can also use the Rewinr currency that they were rewarded with to access exclusive discounts from merchants.
How does it work for and benefit app makers?
For app makers, our solution allows them to generate loyalty and increase retention by rewarding their users for their engagement. We are also introducing a new monetisation channel for them that will not dilute their UI & UX as traditional ads do. Their users will engage more as we reward them with experiences that are tailored to their tastes.
What about brands and retailers?
Merchants and retailers gain a unique sales channel that doesn’t diminish the value of their products and service, as customers can only access their deals by exchanging Rewinr coins.
In this way, using our proprietary algorithm and loop concept, we complete the circle for brands who get increased ROI on their marketing spend, merchants who get an additional channel for sales ,and app owners who can offer a loyalty program their users will love.
-Where did you start once you had the idea?
We did our market research to see whether there were similar solutions in the market. We did find some, but they all tried to solve the problem in a slightly different way and none of them provided the complete solution that we had in mind. By the end of 2105 we had completed our market assessment and built the initial core team to start the hacking process. In March this year, we completed our MVP and demoed it in Techhub @ Campus, where we got really positive feedback and lots of contacts. That really gave us a lot of confidence and we have reiterated on it since then. We are now close to launching our private beta, so really excited about that.
-What is the status of Rewinr, in terms of development?
We built our MVP and demoed it successfully at Google Campus (Techhub, Moorgate) in April, garnering incredibly positive reviews and feedback in the process. V3 of the iOS SDK is in testing phase with early adopters at the moment, V3 of the iOS app is being redesigned, and V2 of our web campaign and analytical portal is being built after feedback from our initial customers. We are targeting a go live date of 7th November for our private beta launch, which will include making all the new versions live and running real campaigns for our initial brands. We are also targeting an expanded beta launch in January 2017, but we will start accepting paying customers from December.
–How have you funded yourself so far and what are your plans/hopes for future funding?
We have actually funded ourselves through our own savings and by offering marketing consultancy and tech development services to other startups. We are looking for seed investment at the moment and hope to get funded once we have done the beta launch and have some solid case studies to back our theories up.
–Let’s move onto TechPitch 4.5. What led you to apply? Had you done any pitching previously?
We have only recently starting pitching and this was our second pitch on a stage. We attended a TechPitch 4.5 event a few months ago and have been applying to take part for some time, so when we finally got the nod to pitch, we were super excited!
-How did your pitch go?
I thought it was the best pitch I have given so far. It was a short three minutes but the scarcity of time made me really focus on the words I wanted to use. I was quite proud at the end of the event when people came up and complimented on the pitch and more so because it seemed they understood the idea, which I thought was even more pleasing as it’s quite a novel concept.
-How was the experience useful?
I think the most useful part of the pitch was the Q&A at the end as that made me think on the spot. Being in that situation in front of a large audience can be daunting, but is nevertheless character building.
-Was the feedback constructive? Did you make any good connections?
Yes, the feedback was very constructive and I liked the challenging nature of the questions. I also made some connections with brands and agencies who would like to use our solution once it’s live. So all in all, Tech Pitch worked out as a great platform for us.
To apply to pitch at our next TechPitch 4.5 on 31 January 2017, please visit the 4.5 website.
Also, come to our inaugural TechPitch 4.5 PLAY, in collaboration with Hasbro, on 22 November 2016.