David John, CEO and founder of Loyalize, which provides white-label services for brands and content providers to engage with nationwide audiences in real-time tells us what inspired him to start the company.
What do you currently do at Loyalize?
I’m the Founder and CEO at Loyalize. We’ve developed a white label platform that helps retailers to engage more effectively with customers by allowing them to add a payment card to their existing loyalty programme.
My main responsibilities are to set the strategic direction for the business, secure investment and create partnerships with our target clients.
However, as with all start-ups, there’s no fixed ‘role’ for anybody – one hour I will be discussing technical integration, the next reviewing financial forecasts, then finishing the day updating sales collateral or perhaps speaking with a potential investor in another country – it’s non-stop!
But that’s what I love about it. There’s never a dull moment.
At the moment, given the current retail environment as it is, we’re focussed on how we can use our platform to help potential retail partners increase their engagement with customers, as we have a platform which allows retailers to create targeted content and messages based on purchasing history.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I’ve always had an interest in fintech and payments, and it’s been fascinating to see how the eco-systems have changed beyond recognition in a matter of years – mostly thanks to open banking and PSD2.
However, loyalty seems to have lagged behind with retailers still using old-fashioned and highly inefficient programmes to try and create rich engagement with their customers.
For example, there’s a disjointed experience at the checkout. When I get to the till, I want to have a quick and simple experience when it comes to paying. Yet, I have to take two actions – show my loyalty card or app, and then pay with a payment card – and both need to be swiped or scanned in different systems, which adds to the transaction time. Multiply that over many transactions, and that’s a lot of wasted time. It doesn’t make sense to us.
So, the inspiration behind Loyalize is to bridge that gap and create a platform that allows customers to make a payment and get rewarded simultaneously, all via their existing payment channels. By using our platform, the retailer suddenly gets access to richer data, enabling them to target and segment more effectively, in real-time.
Who do you admire?
Tough question! I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a number of inspiring and supportive people, but a couple in particular come to mind.
Firstly, my father – for his patience quite frankly! But also, his wisdom and unrelenting support. He’s normally the first person I go to with a problem or challenge.
Secondly – my best mate, Tommy. He’s a doctor on the CV-19 front line. The man is a relentless worker, yet he’ll still turn up for a ‘Zoom beer’ as if nothing is happening. He’s one of the real heroes, and it certainly puts things in perspective.
There are obviously others who I haven’t mentioned but these two certainly stand out.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes, a lot! However, we’ve learnt a great deal from every decision and every mistake. The trick is to learn fast. We wouldn’t be here today otherwise.
What defines your way of doing business?
I’ll always remember one of my advisors and now close friend – Greg Watts – constantly telling me “people do business with people” – and that has truly stuck.
What he means is – if you treat people well, with integrity and respect, that makes for a strong partnership.
Having integrity in how you do business is priceless, and for us is a core value.
I try to think about that before every meeting, before every discussion or phone call – whether with an investor, a team member or a potential partner.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
The first thing I would say is make sure you have an idea which solves a *real* problem.
The second is to surround yourself with people who can do things you can’t and, importantly, who you trust – whether they’re co-founders, team members, advisors or partners.
Finally, try to remain level headed – with a million things to do and not enough hours in the day, sometimes it can feel overwhelming with an urgency to make quick decisions. Learn the art of delegation and make decisions based on facts and figures, rather than just gut-feels or emotions.