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Quinn Roukema is a 22 year-old recent grad BSc Science, Business & Innovation from VU University Amsterdam, which focused on the intersection of technology and business. Alongside his degree Quinn worked for Red Bull as a Student Brand Manager and learned a great deal about marketing in the process.
Shoy is an affordable, effective and easy-to-use app for retailers to set-up highly engaging online referral campaigns right at their point of sale. We apply NFC technology and QR codes to make attracting and retaining customers more effective and engaging than ever. Bringing the force of the web to real-life and loving it. Any business can now easily set up high-tech marketing campaigns.
MO: What inspired you to create Shoy? How did you come up with the name?
Quinn: The idea of Shoy arose together with Jean-Francois Bernier (Seed Investor and Advisor) and Roberto Martinez (Co-Founder Shoy, CTO). At the very basis of Shoy lay the idea of being able to effectively tell relevant friends about cool discounts/businesses you’d spotted. As simple as telling your roommates or colleagues about a cereal deal at your local supermarket. We realized this was something that so many of us do everyday and that there’s also a lot of value in this for businesses. So why not make it a controllable, measurable and engaging process where both businesses and consumers win? We were all fascinated by marketing, commerce and the idea of creating an effective bridge between the web and real-life (through NFC and QR codes) so after a spontaneous and powerful brainstorm on a Friday afternoon Shoy 1.0 rolled out!
MO: How does Shoy work? What exactly are NFC technology and QR codes and what are its advantages to retailers?
Quinn: With Shoy businesses easily create, plan and manage campaigns in which they offer an incentive such as a discount or freebie. Shoy is a web-application so the url that corresponds to their current campaign is linked to the QR codes and NFC chips on the Shoy promotional material that is spread out through their stores. Shoy automatically generates that promotional material as well which can be downloaded straight from the businesses’ Shoy Dashboard. Also businesses’ can promote their campaigns outside of the store by simply distributing the QR code in desired ways or of course online through social media and what not.
Shoppers then simply scan the QR code with their smartphone or hold it against the NFC chip which automatically links to the campaign on Shoy’s web application and opens it in their phone’s browser. To get the incentive for themself and 3 friends they simply send it over to those friends through our app to instantly receive their coupon and redeem it at the business. This generates direct social referrals between friends, the conversion efficiency is huge.
Businesses easily manage and redeem the coupons and keep track of their reach, ROI and Social ROI on their dashboard.
We’re currently also experimenting with Shoy for events/parties which is showing promising results so far. It’s a great way to get parties and events sold out fast while still ensuring the right crowd. The social intimacy of Shoy makes it very strong for this.
MO: How did you manage to generate a buzz about Shoy before your official launch?
Quinn: We’ve done a whole lot of guerilla marketing, managed to successfully leverage our contacts at the 5 big universities in Montreal, got very engaged with potential client businesses’ early on and have also been very active in online marketing and social media.
MO: Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit? Who or what were your early influences or inspirations?
Quinn: Yes definitely. I’ve always been very active in life and could not rest before getting new ideas done. Also I early on developed a natural resistance against authority and (boring) people stuck in dogma telling me what to do. Instead I created my own ways and ideas and that has gone great for me so far and also made me realize I’d probably be better off working for myself. During university one of my professors really inspired me too by recognizing and praising my then “untamed entrepreneurial spirit”. I spent last summer in Montreal for my graduation internship and guess what I started here 1 week after graduating…
MO: What’s the advantage of being a young entrepreneur?
Quinn: The biggest advantage is that since I’m young and have little obligations I can do whatever I need to do. If I want to work till 11 at night I can, if I need to eat 2 for 1$ Mac n’ Cheese meals for a week because I’m broke no-one’s complaining. (Except for my roommates who don’t really dig the smell of cheap cheese for more than 2 days)
The bottom-line is that I have nothing to lose and everything to win. And it’s a great feeling!
MO: What were some struggles you faced while starting your company? What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?
Quinn: I’d say the biggest struggle about starting your own company is to correctly determine when to do what. Where do you start? What is a realistic goal to have in 2 weeks? In “Lean Startup” terms; “Right Action, Right Time”. That’s going way better now though.
Also you simply hit the “Entrepreneur Rollercoaster”. Nothing is certain, one day everything is Rock and Roll, the other you simply see no light at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately the ups are a lot more powerful than the downs! And when there’s a down all you do is work like a dog until you hit that up again. It’s fun and satisfying.
Something that I wish I grasped more fully from the start is that in a startup you’re not looking to optimize your business model, you’re looking to find the RIGHT business model. So don’t “talk” to your customers, listen to them. Outside your office there are facts, inside there are just opinions. (I partially stole that last line from someone I forgot the name of, probably a cool guy.)
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