Ecosystem Economics in Retail: An Interview with Viewsy
A rapidly growing digital start-up, Viewsy is helping retailers the world over understand customer behaviour in physical stores.
Founded by Odera Ume-Ezeoke (pictured), Viewsy uses sensors to detect anonymous signals from mobile phones, translating these signals to find data about the individual, such as how long they spend in stores, how many repeat visits they make and what areas of the store they are frequenting the most. This then allows stores to make decisions on aspects of their business such as staffing and when to launch sales, with the use of vital data inevitably reflecting on profit yields.
I meet Odera at Viewsy’s London Office to find out more about the company and how he came up with the concept, as well as why he believes why the 'goliath's' - the high street retailers - should get on board of his innovative new technology. Here, he tells entrepreneurcountry his story so far.
“I grew up in Leeds and was the type of kid that stayed at home building computers. I then studied business management and Japanese before embarking on a career in financial banking, but my love for technology stayed with me. That’s when I decided to join Groupon. I learnt so much from my time there and I took a lot away with me when I went on to launch my own business. It was just a fantastic company to work for – they were growing at 15% month on month and it was so exciting being a part of that.
“I spent a year there and saw that the one thing Groupon missed was the measuring of the success of a Groupon deal. For me, the solution was my next venture, Viewsy. Viewsy started off as an idea and I teamed up with a colleague from Groupon to launch the company. I then called the smartest people I knew and two key members of the team joined as a result of that. We then set to work on the prototype.
“The next step was joining Startup Bootcamp in the Netherlands. They helped us to set goals and targets and as a result of their support and mentorship we started to secure clients from the SME and enterprise market.
“A question I’m often asked is how I managed to then secure large multinational companies like Vodafone as clients. To be honest it was simple, we demonstrated the product and the technology and they could see the benefits. Amsterdam Arena has been another big client and they could see how Viewsy would benefit all aspects of their business. We are helping retailers to grow their revenues by up to 25%.
“I think that bricks and mortar retailers need to compete with online retailers. Many see the high street as ‘fighting a losing battle’ but with Viewsy we are trying to show that this is not necessarily the case and they can still succeed if they measure and manage.
“In the next couple of years I see Viewsy being a dominant global player. Technological innovation is not just about releasing an app – it’s about creating a global platform. Not everything has been easy though. At one point, when running my previous business, I ran out of cash. I had left this high flying career and now I couldn’t even afford the bus home and was going to have to move back with my parents. Another low point was when I had to pay salaries from my personal savings and I was in desperate need of funding.
“My break through moment came when Viewsy joined Startup Bootcamp. My advice to entrepreneurs, along with never to give up, comes from Steve Blank, who said that as an entrepreneur sometimes you need to ‘get out of the building.’ It’s also important that you only solve problems that you understand, as entrepreneurs are renowned for trying to solve everything! “
To find out more about Viewsy, visit their website at www.viewsy.com