Our start-up of the week is Codacast, a Galway-based company that creates branded, trackable and social QR codes.
Its founder Mark White believes QR codes have not been optimised and he is going to change that.
Codacast is a start-up that specialises in the creation and management of branded, trackable and social QR Codes.
The product was bootstrapped to a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) in just months and officially brought to market in April.
Codacast’s QR Codes were piloted at MineVention, an Irish-based Minecraft convention, early in 2015.
“As 1,000 delegates arrived at the event they received a ‘Golden Ticket’ with a branded QR Code which they scanned to enter a spot-prize competition running for the duration of the event,” explains CEO Mark White.
“Engagement was close to 100pc with the Golden Tickets. Since then a number of different clients have identified a variety of novel uses for the codes but Codacast’s principle niche, for the time being, is marketing and promotions.
“We are working closely with companies such as Grooveyard Event Management (Irish Event Management Company of the Year 2015), providing QR Code-based solutions for many of their client brands.
Codacast was founded by Dublin native Mark White in September 2014. Mark received his undergraduate degree in software engineering from Athlone Institute of Technology in 2002.
He spent a number of years working as a C# Developer in the industry before deciding to undertake a research master in information technology at NUI Galway.
His work resulted in a new algorithm to reduce energy consumption in virtualised data centres and has been since published. Mark currently lives in Galway with his partner Deirdre O’Connor, their daughter Sophie, and Murphy, their three-year-old golden retriever.
The concept behind Codacast originated when Mark spotted QR codes for two different companies beside each other on a notice board in the college. The codes looked almost identical, just black and white squares. Over the course of a few months looking at the technology behind QR codes the same question kept cropping up: how to differentiate one code from another?
Despite initial market research indicating that QR codes may already have come and gone, the company was convinced that the technology had not been optimised the first time around and took a leap of faith.
“The Codacast solution has addressed the issues that existed with traditional QR codes and included a number of additional features besides,” White says.
Codacast is a web-based application. The software on the back end is entirely written in C# and automatically creates a QR code with a client’s logo in the centre.
“A branded QR code differentiates one company from another by including the company logo at the centre of the image and adding brand-related colours instead of the ‘traditional’ black and white squares. Codacast staff add the brand-related colours to the QR codes manually but are working on automating this process also.
“When a Codacast QR code is scanned, the initial redirect is via the Codacast website. The tracking technology built into the software monitors all scanning activity via the website, including geolocation of the person scanning, and provides clients with precise performance data, facilitating return on investment analysis for each code created.
“Additionally, a client can choose to have the person scanning the QR code prompted to share on Facebook. Codacast is the first company to introduce ‘social’ QR codes to the web. Rollout of sharing to other social networks such as Twitter is planned for later in the year.
“Our goal is to build the best product possible – easier said than done!”
Codacast has been bootstrapped since September 2014. White has been the principal engineer on the project with additional programmers contracted by the company as requirements dictated for Android and iOS apps.
“Codacast is steadily building a client list and ‘tweaking’ the software to meet the specific needs of those clients.
“The intention is to continue in the same vein with a view to attracting investment within the next 12 months so that the development can be expanded and sales and marketing activity ramped up.”
White says he encountered very few challenges in bringing Codacast to where it is today.
“We developed the product in our own time, tested it, piloted it, and have been steadily increasing our client base since the launch in April. At this early stage we are just excited that the little idea we had in our heads in September 2014 is actually out in the marketplace and clients are using it to engage with their customers in new and imaginative ways.
“We are confident that, with a flexible, scalable product and the right team in place, branded, trackable and shareable QR codes will become an integral part of every marketing strategy within the coming months. We believe we are resurrecting QR codes one event at a time!”
Galway is a vibrant start-up hub
“The Irish start-up scene appears to be steadily gaining recognition,” White observed.
“With events like the annual Web Summit and companies like Stripe, GameGolf and others now firmly embedded on the world stage, Ireland is punching well above its weight in tech.
“In particular, Galway is a vibrant hub with a plethora of young, ambitious talent and there is nowhere Codacast would rather be — despite the incessant rain!”
His advice for fellow start-up companies is to build an MVP as quickly as possible and get potential consumers using it.
“Place the highest value possible on feedback from these customers so that you can find out exactly what kind of product the market needs.
“Be flexible enough to change. This is one of the advantages of being a start-up — you can move faster if change is required.
“Ultimately it may be necessary to look beyond the island of Ireland and focus on building a product that will scale globally. At the end of the day, don’t be afraid of failure. To coin a phrase — just do it!”
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