Startup Of The Week: SYPE
Please meet Dominykas Karpovic, CEO at SYPE. What is SYPE, how it works, what are the main challenges in this market, and how do they work it out, Dominykas reveals in this interview.
So what is SYPE? How does it work?
Technically speaking, SYPE (www.sypeapp.com) is a geolocation-based platform empowering users to leave direct feedback and give organisations tools to easily apply the gathered information. But we don’t live in codes and spreadsheets, do we? So in reality, SYPE creates possibilities to provide insights and suggestions to actual decision makers within organisations easily, effectively and elegantly. Ever wondered what to do when you’re upset about the service at a restaurant, or when you have an idea for improving a pharmacy’s customer experience or expressing thoughts about a locker room in your gym? What about a broken lock that nobody notices in your office building or university? Social media is too public, direct messaging can be too time consuming… and it all stays in your mind or is shared with your friends at best. By providing one app for all feedback, you are able to privately deliver the needed tools for organisations to work with. SYPE fosters the culture of real feedback.
For regular users, it works like this:
- Download the app
- Sign up
- Provide an insight or suggestion for a particular location
- Get a gift for a useful insight or suggestion
- Celebrate (you’ve improved the world)!
For organisations, it works as follows:
- Go to www.sypeapp.com
- Promote SYPE at your location/-s (posters, stickers, social media, direct communication)
- Analyse insights or suggestions gathered
- Reward for useful insights or suggestions,
- Celebrate (you’re improving the world)!
What are your competitors and competitive advantages?
SYPE solves a problem of direct feedback to actual decision makers. Currently this area is partly covered by communication tools (direct messaging, email, direct calls) or social media (Facebook, Yelp, Trip advisor, Foursquare, etc.). The problem with both is that they’re not created for feedback from a customer to an organisation (private and discrete). Communication tools are for engaging in conversation and the means take time, whereas social media is focused on customer-to-customer reviews (public). Therefore, our biggest competitive advantage is being the platform created precisely for real feedback and for what it actually is at its core: easy and quick to deliver, effective to work with and rewarding to be a part of the process.
What were the reasons behind coming up with this idea and launching this product?
A few years ago, one of the co-founders went to a shopping mall for lunch. Before going to a restaurant, he went to wash his hands. The area around the sinks was wet and there was no place to hang a coat or a briefcase. Two other men experienced the same problem without finding a proper solution. Then it struck him that small hangers would be a great idea here. Nevertheless, the available tools for delivering a suggestion for particular managers were both unsuitable and ineffective. Based on personal family business experience came an understanding that this information would be of much value to decision makers later on, so the future SYPE co-founder did some research. Not finding a proper solution and talking about it with various organisations pushed Dominykas and Benjaminas to create SYPE.
When exactly did you launch it and what were the main challenges before that?
We actually started in late autumn of 2016. Before that it was all testing and prototyping. As all of our personal investments (time and money) went into developing the platform as it should be, we decided to leave advertising to the organisations themselves. The main challenge was (and still is) to make these organisations promote SYPE and make them care. It takes time as many of them have pipelines of processes, and we want it to be integral within their culture. It made us start putting aside money for our own advertising sooner than we planned.
Our target audience is tech-savvy people living in bigger cities and those who care about the environment they live in. Whereas our prime focus from a business perspective is organisations that have a bigger customers/guests/clients traffic and a wider public reach (chains, cities, public institutions), yet we contact and work with family restaurants and small businesses each day as SYPE is not just a tool but also a symbol of the culture of real feedback everywhere you go.
Geographically, we’re now focused on Lithuania yet we’re already testing SYPE in London, Warsaw, Riga, Tallinn, Santa Cruz and Stockholm.
What are the main challenges while working on this product and how are you overcoming them?
The main challenge is how to grow fast without an appropriate budget for marketing. At this moment, it’s the main obstacle we’re facing. Our team currently approaches it by investing time with organisations to remind them of a need to advertise directly in order to get a bigger flow of feedback.
How are you funded? Do you seek extra funding?
SYPE is created from personal investments (both time and money). This fall we are planning to search for funding to be able to scale and grow the community – foster the vibrant culture of real feedback.
Please briefly introduce your founders and you core team.
Dominykas Karpovic has a B.A. in Philosophy and an M.A. in Conflict studies. He’s a business adventure seeker focusing on purposeful strategy.
Relevant experience: Homo Eminens, House of Faige, EuroAd Baltics, family business.
Benjaminas Razmus holds a B.A. in Bioinformatics. He’s a software architect specialising in backend services programming.
Relevant experience: Sony Interactive Entertainment, MedicAnimal Ltd., Exigen Services, family business.
How has business been so far? Could you share some numbers to illustrate this (users, sales, etc.)?
Numbers are increasing steadily and show potential, especially taking into account that we haven’t spent a penny on marketing. Interest from various big and small enterprises together with great feedback from regular app users paint a very bright picture. It could simply be stated that we found a real problem and created a great solution.
The latest three months in comparison to previous three months:
Users + 279%
Organisations + 383%
Future plans, ambitions? Simply speaking – what’s next?
Our goal is to create a culture of real feedback: to connect people with organisations directly and by doing that to improve the everyday environment we all experience. It will become a habit for a majority of people who do care about various places starting with vibrant bigger cities.
Thanks SYPE for the interview!