Running a small bar, restaurant or any other business is difficult and leveraging technology is not always top of mind in the grand schemes of things but all of your customers are using phones and in your location. Swing leverages both, by using beacons to track customer behavior and direct related ads and promotions to your customers. Everyone loves a getting a great offer and Swing allows hospitality venues to easily manage their marketing and loyalty programs in real time by dispatching timely offers, creating a win-win for the customer and the business.
AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and cofounder Keith Savitz about the Startup and in what direction the company plans take it.
Tell us about the product or service.
Swing uses Beacons as a Service (BaaS) to provide SMBs with a simple, extremely low-cost solution to influence their customers purchasing decisions at the point of sale. Specifically, Swing makes it easy for bars and restaurants to send drink specials, food specials or whatever offer or message they want directly to their customers phones at the most optimal time: when they’re inside the bar/restaurant contemplating what to order. Swing also provides a built-in mobile loyalty program which is completely customizable, thus allowing partner venues to reward customers based on time spent at their bar/restaurant.
How is it different?
What makes Swing “different” from other location-based services like FourSquare, etc, is that with Swing, there’s no “check-in” required. Our beacon technology automatically tracks customers duration and frequency, thus allowing us to provide our partner venues (i.e. the bars and restaurants) with valuable, actionable analytics.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
The market we’re attacking is enormous. We’re initially focused on bars and restaurants, but will eventually expand to retail and then to stadiums, arenas, etc, etc. Put simply, every business on the planet with at least one physical location has a compelling offer or message that they want to communicate to their onsite customers. Furthermore, in this highly competitive world where Amazon and the other online giants are posing a real threat to SMBs survival, it’s more important than ever for these SMBs to implement and execute a mobile strategy to draw in and retain customers, as well as increase purchases and revenue.
What is the business model?
Our business model is “Beacons as a Service” (BaaS), thus we will eventually charge our partner venues a nominal monthly subscription fee for using Swing. We feel very strongly that our SMB clients will agree that this monthly fee is a very small price to pay in exchange for the value that Swing is providing their business: customers are spending more money, visiting more often and having more fun. We will also generate advertising revenue from liquor companies who want to use “Exclusive Swing Offers” as a way to push/promote their brand(s) to potential customers at the most optimal time: when they’re inside the bar deciding what to order.
What inspired the business?
The inspiration for Swing came when I was reading a 2015 article in Entrepreneur Magazine about the rise in beacon technology and how many of the top 100 retailers were using beacons to influence customers purchasing decisions since 73% of people who receive a beacon message during their shopping visit are more likely to make a purchase. The article went on to say that in 2015, Beacons would be responsible for $4 Billion in consumer purchases and skyrocket to $44 billion in 2016. However, and this is what led to the “light bulb moment”, according to the article, beacon technology, albeit extremely effective, was too expensive for SMBs to implement. I immediately thought to myself, “If we could develop a platform for SMBs which would provide all the benefits of BaaS at a very affordable cost, and make it simple to use, we would have one helluva business on our hands with enormous market potential.”
How do you envision your company scaling?
With regard to “scaling”, we intend to first focus on New York before expanding to other major cities nationwide. We are currently in over 50 NYC bars and plan on expanding to 400-500 bars and restaurants in NYC (including all 5 boroughs and Hoboken) in the next 12-15 months. From there, we’ll expand to Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, etc and then onto Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, etc, etc.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
The milestones we plan to achieve within 6 months are (1) expanding to 100 bars/restaurants, (2) rolling out our Android application (slated for end of August/early September) and (3) implementing 5-7 significant partnerships, which will accelerate user acquisition and brand awareness.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
The one piece of startup advice that I never got was that you need to spend 50% of your time on gaining customer traction. That is, you can have the best product or service in the world, but without execution, you’ll most likely wind up in the “startup graveyard”. The “Field of Dreams — if you build it, they will come” adage, simply doesn’t apply.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Wow, this is a tough question. I identify most with entrepreneurs who would die for their company. With that in mind, I’d absolutely LOVE to be put in touch with Brian Chesky (CEO, Airbnb) even though I know he currently lives and works in SF. I’d also love to be connected with Chris Sacca since, from what I’ve read about him and heard in interviews, he just seems to “get” entrepreneurs and seems to enjoy taking an active advisory/Board role if he believes in the entrepreneur and company vision. I know he doesn’t live in NYC either, and that he’s supposedly “retired” from the VC world, but I have to believe he’s still entrenched in both the New York Community and Silicon Valley. Other than these two, I’m always interested in connecting with people who love the entrepreneurial spirit as much as I do and believe as strongly as I do that “If you can see it, you can achieve it!”
Why did you launch in New York?
We launched in New York for 3 reasons: (1) The Founding Partners all live in the New York area; (2) There is certainly no shortage of bars and restaurants in NYC (and the 5 boroughs); and (3) We figured it was the perfect city for us to perfect our playbook before expanding nationwide.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind? My favorite rooftop bar in New York City to unwind is Tonic East’s rooftop bar. The view from the rooftop is great, they always have a fun crowd, the staff is always so friendly and attentive, and the food and drinks are awesome.