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From junkie to collector: loyalty business hunts global scale

A loyalty programme venture’s change of tack to retail ecosystem partner – supported by a growing investment base – is paying off in the form of a customer pool that spans 200 stores in 19 countries.

The business began as RewardJunkie, which asked users of its app to register their credit card or Eftpos details to get points through member retailers when they swiped that card. Before that it relied on QR code scans.

The card details approach stunted its ability to grow globally, especially as so many retail transactions in the US are made with cash.

Now called Collect, the company is focusing on partners in the retail ecosystem and has integrated its software with Kiwi cloud point of sale specialist Vend, Australia-based hospitality POS business Kounta.

It says real-time data that’s more rich lets small and medium size retailers target offers more quickly, affordably and precisely.

It’s also got email marketing software mail chimp using its API, along with e-commerce provider Shopify; and Swarm, whose devices track store performance data like dwell time, people traffic and conversion.

“With Reward Junkie you could see how much money a customer had spent,” says CEO, director and shareholder Brent Spicer.

“Now you can see the product, how often they’re coming in, where they’re spending, time in store, how they’re shopping online and offline, and market through email and social media.”

The plan is to shift from software as a service to platform as a service, making the most of an open API and get other third parties choosing to integrate with Collect, rather than the other way around. Those third parties will be “anyone who adds value to the customer and the data we’re collecting”, says Spicer, adding that might include a recommendation platform like Trip Advisor.

Collect is also working with Mobi2Go, a Wellington based software as a service offering for mobile ordering.

Collect is growing at 100% per month, with Australia the fastest growing region, followed by New Zealand and the US.

North American expansion is on the agenda and it’s hired Silicon Valley-based Kyle Enright as its regional vice president. Enright has most recently been a startup advisor and venture partner, and is a former leader of corporate and business development at Google’s payments group, responsible for strategic partnerships for Google Wallet.

With its first seed round valued at around $400,000, it’s now raised $1.4 million, with an additional $250,000 in R&D funding support from Callaghan Innovation in two grants. One was 18 months ago and the latest last week.

Callaghan also supported two Collect interns through the Summer of Tech programme, who the company has now taken on as fulltime staff.

Among the 29-strong investor base are former All Black Piri Weepu, Peter Biggs, the chief executive of Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne, Creative HQ, Xero’s former general manager of marketing and now consultant and board director, Paula Jackson, Xero’s former special projects manager Paul Williams and netballer Maria Tutaia.

The co-founders, Wellington twins Matt and Brady Thomas, are joint chief innovation officers and they and Spicer own nearly 17 percent stakes each in the company. Biggs and Jackson have joined the trio as the company’s directors.

The new name is less gender specific, says Spicer, and has resulted in a more even split of users between males and females.

Collect plans a third funding round for November and says it will likely to involve venture capitalists and institutional investors in New Zealand and Australia.

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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