Everyday we see online ads that use highly targeted analytics based on our actions to show us products that we might be interested in purchasing. When a brand nails this approach, they are not only likely to increase sales, but also to grow the return on their investments. For in-store advertising, most retailers and brands follow a far simpler advertising plan: flyers and posters. Is this effective? To an extent yes, but only on a broad scale, and with ROI that is much harder to measure.
Hamza Iftikhar and Ali Hasnain Shah are the Co-Founders of DealSmash, a Founder Institute Islamabad portfolio company that is meshing these two worlds together by infusing analytics technologies into deals and promotions for offline in-store purchases.
DealSmash drives in-store purchases by providing customers with specific promotions that match their interests.
This is accomplished through a combination of analyzing a customer’s buying habits from scanned receipts, as well as their interactions in stores through using localized beacon technology. This results in more sales for retailers, and can even push slow-moving stock off the shelves by offering targeted discounts. Customers also earn cash back as well as in-store prizes or vouches for using the app.
Since being introduced to the app stores in 2016, DealSmash has seen tremendous growth. In fact, the app is so widely used that it’s among the top 15 apps in Pakistan! And if the incredibly positive reviews in both the Apple and Android app stores are any indicator, the concept has been very well received. To date, DealSmash has onboarded more than 150 retailers. The startup also has raised a significant seed investment. They first started with raising PKR 8.8M (Pakistani Rupees) in 2017, followed by USD $150k in February 2018.
In response to their initial seed funding round, Ali Hasnain Shah was quoted as saying,
We enable consumers as well as retail brands to make better informed decisions. This funding will enable us to scale as well as strengthen our product and technology. It will also enable us to upgrade our data analytics platform for sharing consumer insights with brands.
More recently, DealSmash was also selected for the Ali Baba eFounders program, resulting in Co-Founder Hamza Iftikhar receiving mentoring and coaching from senior Alibaba leadership—including from Ali Baba’s Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Jack Ma.
Prior to founding DealSmash, Ali Hasnain Shah worked in the global IT and telecom industries, managing large teams and projects. Among those projects was the management of a retail mobile project between Sainsbury, a UK retailer, and Vodafone. Hamza Iftikhar on the other hand has a background specifically in analytics, and focused most of his prior career in product development.
Hamza Iftikhar recalls the moment when he began to see technology and entrepreneurship as callings within his own life,
I can clearly remember the day I envisioned the value of my lifelong passion for Entrepreneurship. It was the night Pakistan got hit by one of the worst floods in its history in 2010. Thousands of families were made homeless. I remember the restless conversation I had with my friend that night, trying to find an answer to the problems we had witnessed as being part of a third world underdeveloped country. The answer was surprisingly simple – technology. The following years I put all my efforts to materialize the knowledge I have acquired in education for the betterment of the society I am part of.
And that is exactly what the team set out to accomplish. The experiences of the two Co-Founders led to a natural progression towards DealSmash, with a goal of reducing the spam that wastes customer time and doesn’t offer relevant promotions or deals.
In addition to near-term demand for analytics coming from retailers, smartphone adoption in Pakistan is rapidly increasing. By next year GSMA predicts that more than 50 percent of people globally will be using smartphones, and in Pakistan that figure is set to be a more than 70 percent market adoption.
For the DealSmash team, it is clear that their success is on an upward trajectory: it’s all about meeting both retailer and customer demand. According to Hamza Iftikhar,
If you have a concept that the world is missing, and your idea could change the world, then you should do it.
Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $800M in funding, and building products people love across over 180 cities worldwide.
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