Social Rewards combines deals, social media, and marketing metrics in one platform
A Q&A with Joe Morin, Social Rewards co-founder and CEO. The Torrance, California–based company was founded in March of 2010 and recently raised $600K in Seed funding.
SUB: Please describe what Social Rewards is, and the value proposition you bring to social media and consumers.
Morin: Social Rewards is a social media based loyalty program platform where brands may identify and track social media engagement and reward them for social loyalty.
Points are exchanged for room nights, show tickets, dinners and drinks. Points can be fully integrated into an existing loyalty program, or built as a hybrid blend of existing points and custom redemptions such as free drinks.
SUB: What are your target markets?
Morin: Tourism, travel, hospitality, restaurants, entertainment, conferences and ecommerce.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Morin: We’d rather not call out our competitors at the moment.
SUB: What differentiates Social Rewards from the competition?
Morin: Other companies addressing the social loyalty industry at the moment currently do not offer as robust a platform as Social Rewards. Our value proposition is our ability to track sales online via our tracking URLs to extract ROI data from social media utilizing a points platform as incentive.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Morin: We incorporated in March of 2010 but began development of our core technology in September of 2009. Once we had developed the technology, we built a working base Alpha prototype and showed it to several potential clients or influential individuals to ascertain market worthiness. [We] got some rave responses so we knew we were on to something.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Social Rewards? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Morin: There really was. My business partner Mike Uesugi was fascinated with Twitter after I told him that I hadn’t been this excited about a company since the advent of Google. So he and his team created a prototype tracking platform that initially was going to be an affiliate tracking program where one didn’t need a published site in order to become an affiliate, just a Facebook or Twitter account.
On the other hand I was seeking to discover a way to reward influential users online and had recently discovered Klout and had joined their advisory board so that their technology could aid in that. The “aha” moment came when I was handed a movie loyalty card at a theater and was handed back a coupon for a free buttered popcorn. I figured that loyalty points could be the perfect vehicle to reward these individuals since points could be given both online and offline. Mike and I are both extreme frequent fliers and travelers and we wanted a way to get rewarded ourselves for our social media activity. When we sought out a solution we realized there was none at the time, so we created it for ourselves. Loyalty points seemed the perfect way to reward that usage.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Morin: Time! Working on raising funding and at the same time working on product development while attempting to close enterprise level sales for use of the platform has been challenging with a small team. Another giant challenge was staying focused on one market in order to get it right. We’ve had over 500 inquiries into using our platform in countries from Dubai to Brazil from small businesses to enterprise level. Staying focused on Las Vegas as our launch market was tough and learning how to say no was also challenging but it turned out to be the right decision as we’ve captured 80 percent of the Las Vegas resort casino market in a year.
SUB: You recently raised $600K in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Morin: This was a ‘rolling close’ so we have been fund raising for a while and already put these funds to work. The funds have enabled us not only to launch our Alpha pilot version 1.0 of our platform but also version 1.5 which we rolled out to Luxor Las Vegas. This really taught us a lot and where we needed to improve. We took everything we learned in versions 1.0 and 1.5 and threw it into our massively scalable and robust version 2.0, which coincidentally we were writing alongside the other versions since we knew we would need a highly scalable version of our Beta test software.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?
Morin: We will be seeking a Series A round of financing this year.
SUB: What are your goals for Social Rewards over the next year or so?
Morin: We plan to enter additional markets both geographically and by industry. Entertainment looks promising.
Social Rewards – www.socialrewards.com