The founders of ProMotion Rewards – rising stars in Ireland’s start-up scene – talk about their goal of becoming the consumer rewards app of choice.
Lauren O’Reilly and Bidemi Afolabi first met back in 2016, when they were in the same pharmacy class at Trinity College Dublin.
Sharing a passion for data and technology, the two worked on a business project that saw them enter – and win – the Trinity LaunchBox student accelerator programme in 2020.
At the time, they were focused on connecting brands with bicycle owners – allowing companies to advertise using bikes as a medium while promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Today, their business idea has evolved into an app that allows users to photograph or scan receipts and upload them to collect points, eventually earning rewards that can be claimed in the form of gift cards or donated to a charity of choice.
Based in Dublin’s Dogpatch Labs, ProMotion Rewards is on a mission to change the way consumers and businesses in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry interact with each other.
While consumers can win rewards through the app, businesses are provided with personalised and real-time data to understand their customers better.
“At the time that we came up with the idea, we were both completing our studies to become pharmacists, and on work placement in large retail pharmacy chains,” Afolabi told SiliconRepublic.com.
“Coming from a scientific, data-focused background, we noticed the retailer’s clear determination to drive loyalty card initiatives, with similar trends across other retailer environments, and saw the value of this consumer insight for the retailer.
“However, while the retailer was motivated to encourage store loyalty, including encouraging customers to choose own-brand or private-label products over the branded equivalents, it became clear to us that the retailer owned the relationship with the consumer, they owned the sale and they owned the associated data.”
Making the most of consumer data
According to Afolabi, it is becoming increasingly difficult for CPG brands to reach and connect with their customers – which is where ProMotion steps in.
“As pharmacists, we both have very high standards when it comes to data quality and ethics, so naturally when it came to consumer insights, we wanted to create something that would provide value for both sides and offer complete autonomy and transparency at the same time,” added O’Reilly.
The founders – who have been named as young entrepreneurs to watch in Ireland’s business and tech scene – have complementary skillsets that help ProMotion Rewards thrive.
“Bidemi is very strong technically, having taught himself to code and is also the recipient of a Laidlaw Research and Leadership scholarship, receiving leadership training from top experts during the scholarship,” O’Reilly said.
Meanwhile, O’Reilly led marketing and social media at various pharmacies and organisations before diving into her own venture, and ran her own online platform to share health and wellbeing advice. She has also been a board member of Junior Chamber International – a non-profit community service NGO for people between 18 and 40 years old – at both the local and national levels.
While data is at the heart of ProMotion’s product, the platform uses artificial intelligence to extract relevant data from the receipts that are uploaded – which is then categorised using the start-up’s proprietary algorithm.
“Having been developed by co-founders that are both scientists and, in fact, pharmacists, our mission is to democratise consumer data for both brands and consumers,” Afolabi said.
Ireland a ‘dark horse’ in start-up race
Having closed a fundraising round of €725,000 just over a month ago, led by Laidlaw Scholars Ventures and backed by Delta Partners and Enterprise Ireland, ProMotion Rewards is now taking steps to achieve its goal of becoming the consumer rewards app of choice.
“We want to help the world’s leading consumer brands to be completely consumer-centric and focused on the real needs of today’s consumers,” said O’Reilly.
“The only way to really do this is to listen to the consumer and observe consumer behaviours across the market, as they are happening, as well as have the ability to follow up on those behaviours by targeting for qualitative analysis based on observed behaviours.”
And Ireland, she added, serves as the perfect base to realise this dream. “I think Ireland is a dark horse in the start-up race, particularly across Europe.
“We have insanely intelligent and skilled people here and also attract a lot of talented people from all over the world who may first of all come here for the academia or big tech companies, but oftentimes are super innovative and come up with world-class solutions to global problems.”
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