Our tech start-up to watch this week is Dymando, a new user-demand platform that’s aiming to disrupt how consumers interact with marketers and businesses. The web and mobile platform will allow people to enter a need they have for free and get targeted responses from businesses, services providers and individuals.
The duo behind the new service, which is operating out of Dublin, is Simon Crisp and Keith Jordan.
Crisp, a former executive with the advertising and communications giant WPP, left his role as EMEA CEO at the WPP division Kinetic in 2011 to focus on setting up his own business.
He says that, together with Jordan, he spent all of 2012 getting Dymando up and running. A team of six now works at the start-up.
"I was conscious that the majority of marketing and sales communications with customers are still geared towards pushing out product messages to consumers and that there is very little opportunity for consumers to declare what they really want, need or desire of the companies that they engage with," explains Crisp.
He asserts that Dymando will be about turning on its head the way consumers and businesses connect with each other.
"The conventional wisdom is that marketers push out their messages and the consumer responds. This is a simple concept whereby the individual states his or her need first and then the business can respond and sell on their products or services."
Crisp believes there will be two motivations to use Dymando: firstly to find something you can’t find elsewhere; and also about the consumer wanting something on his or her own terms.
Via the web platform, which also works on mobile browsers, people can sign up for free and then enter a need that they have, also for free. Other Dymando users, be they individuals, businesses or service providers, can then choose to answer such needs. A fee of €1.99 will apply here, however.
"One of the elements that had first attracted us to start the business was the clear revenue model that didn’t rely on advertising. We charge €1.99 to any business or individual who wants to respond to a listed need," says Crisp.
He believes this will be good value, describing a Dymando need as the strongest pre-qualified need.
Crisp says that behind the concept is an enterprise technology platform.
"Algorithms place our users’ needs into categories automatically and users can allocate keyword tags that highlight when a ‘need’ of interest to them has been submitted into the platform," he explains.
He gives the example of how an insurance company could enter an ‘insurance’ keyword tag so that when a user on the platform requests an insurance quote, it would register in the insurance company’s Dymando account.
An instant-messaging service sits on Dymando so that the consumer can interact directly with the business or service provider.
So who will want to use the service?
"Our research suggests that there will be a slight female bias and it will be very receptive to those who are power users on Facebook and those who are really familiar with social networking," says Crisp.
"We think we have built a platform, that, in terms of design, usability and performance can work for anybody and everybody at some point," he adds.
Dymando has been funded by the co-founders and angel investors, the majority of whom hail from Ireland.
"We have a micro-financing strategy that has meant fundraising has been based around the premise of ‘raise it when we need it’," explains Crisp.
Since launching just over a week ago, 400 users have joined Dymando, he says.
"We’ve had a good start but what has really surprised us is the number of needs that have been put in. That’s a real positive but now we have to work hard to ensure that businesses and service providers start to realise that there are strong pre-qualified leads sitting there waiting to be answered," adds Crisp.
The first need that a business answers will also be free.
He says that needs that have been inputted so far range from conventional ones seeking insurance quotes to a request for rare model cars from a user in the US.
Crisp says the plan for Dymando is to focus on the Irish marketplace initially.
"We’ve got some serious plans. We’re confident that we can develop quickly because we have a management team that is experienced.
"We will concentrate on Ireland for the first few weeks and then we will move on to the UK and after that the US. We are really bullish about the fact that we believe this could be a serious Irish breakout company," he says.
Finally, Crisp’s advice for other aspiring start-ups is to use the aspects of Ireland’s start-up community to their advantage.
"I don’t think there is another country in the world that has a better personal support network. There isn’t as much money out there to invest as there was 10 years ago but Irish individual investors are much more willing to put there money where there mouth is and identify and follow a good idea," he adds.