Cape Town-based SWARM Loyalty, a specialist developer of mobile loyalty card and customer marketing applications, has secured the backing of an IT venture capital consortium as part of a rapid expansion drive in the local hospitality market.
Made up of experienced IT entrepreneurs with a track record of establishing some of the country’s foremost IT companies – including software and solutions specialist DVT – the investment consortium hand-picked SWARM as the first of several up-and-coming companies with the potential for rapid growth and global expansion.
SWARM debuted a point-of-sale integrated mobile loyalty solution for South African fresh food franchise Kauai early last year, and has since launched new versions of its solution for at least two more national franchise brands.
“The loyalty card industry is a major money spinner for South African brands, but to date there are very few solutions that marry paper-based or plastic loyalty card programs with the marketing potential, convenience and data-generating functionality of smartphones on top of a point-of-sale integrated loyalty solution,” says SWARM co-founder and MD Rowan Vlaming.
“Companies are crying out for ways to replace their time consuming, labour intensive and fraud prone card-based systems with a more secure, easily accessible digital app, and that’s exactly what we give them,” he says. “Down to the same physical layout of the card-and-stamp design, our solution opens up a whole world of direct marketing opportunities for the brand, including one-to-one communication with the customer using secure messaging, and direct customer-specific promotions that overcome the generic intrusiveness of SMS and email marketing.”
Investor and DVT chairman Chris Wilkins believes SWARM is an exciting new business that’s using technology in a clever way.
“With a solid grounding in the loyalty space and a long track record of blue chip mobile app development experience, SWARM is the only company in South Africa solely focused on developing a standout mobile loyalty solution,” says Wilkins.
“What attracted us most was SWARM’s use of its own IP to create and develop a product that not only has headroom to win over the local market but also has exceptional forward potential in overseas markets as well,” he says. “Having identified the company as the leader in its field we are keen to play an accelerator role to help it fast-track its growth potential using the know-how and established networks of our investment team.”
Vlaming says it was important to find the right partners to push the company forward, and create a platform that makes it both easier and more cost effective to launch solutions for new brands.
“Because we build every solution from the ground-up it’s been fairly expensive to on-board a new customer with a unique app, so with additional support and the backing of Chris and his team we’re actively refining our technology to get new customers started quicker and more cost-effectively,” he says.
“Aside from the funding, however, it was just as important for us to find the right people to partner with, that shared our vision and culture of entrepreneurship and uncompromising customer service. Chris and his team know what it takes to start and grow a new IT company, regardless how good its technology, and they have a vested interest in seeing us reach the goals we’re collectively aiming for.”