Wednesday Oct 3, 2012 by Susan Johnston - Contributor, VentureFizz
Several mobile apps promise to boost customer loyalty but require customers to download an app or businesses to adopt a new system. But according to Angus Davis, Founder and CEO of the Providence, R.I.-based Swipely, “those systems are solving a problem that doesn’t exist.” As an alternative, Swipely offers a cloud-based service that requires no change in behavior for customers or businesses.
“Customers just use a credit or debt card that’s already in their pocket,” explains Elizabeth Ducoff, Swipely’s Senior Manager of PR and Marketing. “The merchant doesn’t have to invest in any new hardware, because we’re integrated with all major point of sale systems. That’s really huge because a lot of merchants don’t want to give up that investment [in hardware].”
Earlier this year, the company launched a new version of the service, which now includes payment capabilities powered by global electronic payment company First Data. In September, Swipely surpassed the $1 million in weekly transactions mark. The service also tracks customer information such as repeat vs. new customers, recency, and frequency, helping “local merchants bring customers back more frequently,” explains Davis.
The Rhode Island native joined Netscape in 1996 as a teenager, the company’s youngest employee. After a string of successful businesses and acquisitions (his last company Tellme was acquired by Microsoft for approximately $800M), Davis chose to start Swipely in Providence instead of Cambridge or Palo Alto, because of the “tremendous talent and more affordable cost of living for employees.”
Davis also cites his desire to boost the economy in his home state, which has the second highest unemployment rate in the country (after Nevada). “High-paying skilled jobs are a big part of turning this state’s economy around,” he adds. (Swipely has about 35 employees, according to Ducoff.)
Ducoff estimates that about 70 percent of Swipely’s merchants are restaurants, which includes Boston’s Bell in Hand Tavern and Newton’s Farmstead Table. “We also work with a number of salons and spas, different types of retail boutiques, liquor stores, and yoga studios,” she adds. “They generally do an average of $1 million in credit card sales annually at each location.”
Swipely recently expanded its office space by about 40 percent, and Davis expects to double the sales team in the near future (with sales people in other markets such as New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.). “We’re literally measuring our growth often times month over month or week over week,” he adds. “We are also anticipating product improvements but we haven’t announced anything specific.”