Popertee can virtually help brands make a physical impact

12 Mar 2018

From left: UK sales manager Sam McMahon, founder and CEO Lucinda Kelly, and UK account manager Sinead Brennan. Image: Splento.com

Our Start-up of the Week is Popertee, a platform that connects brands with vacant spaces for short-term retail and marketing campaigns.

Popertee is building a global data platform that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to match the perfect audience with the perfect location, connecting brands with the ideal space using social media and behavioural data.

Founded by Lucinda Kelly, Popertee is capable of measuring the impact of campaigns for experiential marketing, pop-ups, events and brands looking to test markets on a short-term basis and have deeper insights on performance, event planning, agencies and venues, but in a more accurate way.

‘Our business is combining the growth of experiential marketing with location data to enable brands [to] discover target audiences on maps and then book the relevant space (as media) in this recommended location’

Future Human

Popertee was included in our list of 30 Irish start-ups to watch in 2018.

“We’re also building proprietary software called Popscore that will enable brands to discover, book and measure physical spaces as they would digital media,” Kelly said.

The market

“We are addressing the outdoor and experiential marketing and media market, where more global brands than ever before are seeking physical spaces for experiential marketing campaigns,” Kelly explained.

She said that experiential marketing is the fastest growth sector of marketing budgets globally and there is a growing need for brands to have access to data to help them better plan locations and measure the impact of the campaign.

“Our business, for the first time ever globally, is combining the growth of experiential marketing with location data to enable brands [to] discover target audiences on maps and then book the relevant space (as media) in this recommended location.”

The founder

30 awesome Irish start-ups to watch in 2018

Lucinda Kelly, founder of Popertee. Image: Popertee

Founder Lucinda Kelly has a corporate background.

Her most recent corporate role was at Paddy Power, where she held senior marketing and product positions before leaving to establish Popertee.

The technology

There are a number of elements to the Popertee core offering.

Popscore Discover combines behavioural and social data to show pockets of audiences on heat maps for brands to better target the audience they are seeking for their campaign.

“We are a Telefónica company and have proprietary data, which is the majority of the data for our minimum viable product, combined with social media sources.

“The brand can then book the space on our platform.

“Lastly, Popscore Measure uses a combination of footfall, dwell time and sentiment analysis to enable brands to measure their physical campaign.

“We are trialling new O2 data on this product with a brand next month.

“The platform is build end to end so that it optimises and learns, enabling brands to get smarter with their locations in the future through our machine learning and predictive technology,” Kelly explained.

Kelly said that the ultimate goal is to build a world-class platform that global media agencies and brands will use to book and measure physical space as they would digital media.

“Think of it as retail as media,” she pointed out.

Location, location, location

Popertee raised its €500,000 seed round with Growing Capital, European Investment Fund and Enterprise Ireland in June last year.

“They have been very supportive, and getting this fundraising enabled us to build out a team to build the technology.

“We won the Wayra Ireland Search for a Start-Up, which fast-tracked us to London. We now do most of our new deals from here, and head office is still in Dublin.

“There is great interest in the tech; we have paying customers and we will open a new investment round in the coming months.

“There is already interest in the UK for this, which is great, and it’s important to us we get the right investors and advisers in the mix. The plan is to get into New York early 2019.”

Data is power

Kelly said that getting quality insights from the data initially was challenging.

“Our lead data scientist, Dr Gerard Lynch, is doing some great stuff with the data but the challenge moving forward will be to weigh up the costs of the data sources with the actual price of the product to brands.

“New data sources are opening up so it’s important we continue to be lean and grow our data sources in line with customer acquisition and value.”

Best of breed

Kelly admits to being pretty new to to the start-up scene in Ireland.

“But, from what I see, we are a breed of our own. Founders that I have met seem to be completely driven, work really hard and have a great laugh. I think it’s important we have fun along the way as, for most of this, this is a period of our life where it’s the number-one focus, meaning there are other sacrifices along the way.

“From what I can see, there is more investor money in London and seed rounds are bigger in general than in Ireland.

“I would recommend any founder to explore export markets early. It is never too early to start validating and having coffees with people. I have had some of the best meetings out of random coffees with no agendas.”

From her vantage point, she has observed that, especially in London, some amazing deep tech is being built but there is a serious lack of commercial strategy to accompany it.

“I would like to think if I rewinded what I was doing, if I was made aware of these start-ups, I could have gone in as co-founder.

“For these amazing start-ups, I think they should be looking at pairing with a commercial person early so that they communicate the best story about how they are going to change the world.

“I genuinely think there could be a higher chance of getting funded for some of these start-ups if they had someone else tell their story, as the cleverest, smartest founder is often not the best communicator.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years