LoyLap was started in 2012 by Irish entrepreneurs Patrick Garry and Conor O’Toole. Here, ThinkBusiness caught up with Patrick to discuss his growing business.

What is the LoyLap?

LoyLap helps businesses to market to their customers in an automated way. It has a number of features beyond a loyalty application. It can send promotions to customers on their birthday, it can suggest new products to customers based on their past spend, being able to be integrated into POS systems. It can also act as a digital wallet, while also allowing customers to order ahead.

LoyLap is currently helping over 3,300 businesses, we have over one million users and transactions of over $130m. We work across a range of businesses including coffee shops (Bear Market Coffee in Dublin), gyms (Bannatyne gyms with 66 locations in the UK) and fast-food establishments (Rockets in Ireland).

How it began

We both studied business in Trinity, and after graduating, we both found jobs with Conor working in Accenture doing technology consulting, while I got a job in Deutsche bank. After about 18 months or so, we decided to start LoyLap.

Back in 2012 Starbucks had a customer app, which when initially released, was only a loyalty application. Even in the early stages of the app the response was very positive. We saw this as an opportunity to give other businesses access to the same technology. Given the significant costs involved in developing such an app, it wouldn’t make financial sense for most businesses to create their own.

“LoyLap is currently helping over 3,300 businesses, we have over one million users and transactions of over $130m”

Seed funding and first customers

We were able to fund the business from our savings and leverage that money to get R&D grants provided through the Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland. The grants we received subsidised an engineer who worked on the development of the app. Once started, we were able to bootstrap the company from sales. One of the benefits of starting a business when you’re young is you don’t have as many financial obligations as someone who’s in their 30s or 40s, you can survive on a much lower salary.

Patrick Garry, co-founder of LoyLap.

Once it was ready, we went knocking on doors and found 20 businesses willing to trial the app. After the trial had finished, of the 20 businesses, ten wanted to pay for the app to continue using our service. This positive response gave us the impetus to move forward with the business and develop the app’s features further.

Growth

Any profits that were made were reinvested back into the business to improve the product. We are constantly seeking feedback from our customers, trying to understand their needs and how the app can address those needs. The app has developed so much from customer feedback that where it is now was not anticipated when we first launched.

Features and costs

One of the main goals of the app is to help businesses market to their customers in an automated way. We want to allow business owners to focus on what they do best, rather than investing time in marketing through leaflets or social media. Specifically, some of the services such as a digital wallet, being able to order ahead and suggest products based on past spend are incredibly useful for businesses.

“It’s important to know that a lack of experience shouldn’t be an issue stopping you from starting a business if you’re willing to learn”

We charge a fee of €15 per month for the basic service and €40 per month + two per cent of transactions. Compared to other forms of marketing such as leaflets or social media, it is much cheaper. We can also provide a white label app for your company for €1,950.

Advice for potential entrepreneurs

It’s important to know that a lack of experience shouldn’t be an issue stopping you from starting a business if you’re willing to learn. We had no experience in loyalty apps prior to starting out. I think the younger you start a business the better. When you’re younger, you have less family and financial responsibilities. You will have more time to start your business, you don’t need as much money to survive and it’s much less of a risk.

I’ve seen people who have tried to start a business and for whatever reason the business didn’t work out. But all those people now have very good jobs. The two or three years you spend working on your business will stand to you in the long run. Companies like LinkedIn, Salesforce, Google and Hubspot are very interested in hiring people who have that early stage experience in companies. Those with that type of experience and personality tend to fit in well within those modern office environments. So if it doesn’t work out for some reason, plenty of doors can still open up for you.

Looking to start a business but in need of financial support?

 

Interview by Stephen Lawless from Accountant Pages

Published: 6 March, 2020

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