RWRD: Miles Bailey, Tim Silbermann

The RWRD app offers users a guide to independent coffee shops, as well as paperless loyalty features and offers

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Names of founders: Miles Bailey and Tim Silbermann

Location: London

Date Launched: November 2019

Number of employees: 5

Age of founders: 29


Instagram: @rwrdapp

RWRD allows independent and small coffee businesses to connect with customers through an app. The founders, Miles Bailey and Tim Silbermann, explain the process of launching this startup.

Tell us what your business does:

We started RWRD to provide a platform for a community of independent and small chain venues, giving features and benefits that users might be accustomed to seeing with high street chains. The app is built specifically to support small business through discovery and loyalty based retention features.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

A few years ago Miles ran a pop-up coffee bar in South West London, but well off the beaten track. ‘It was an awesome space and just off the river in Nine Elms but the footfall was lacking, and with a major chain close by, simply being found was a challenge.’

Tim moved to Edinburgh after spending six years in the military and, with a passion for coffee and supporting small business, went about exploring the vibrant coffee scene there. He quickly found himself with numerous paper loyalty cards which inevitably were lost or left behind somewhere.

It was a combination of these experiences that led to the combination of building a platform to support independent business through both discovery and loyalty features.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We wanted it! Further to our experiences though, we carried out market research with both potential users as well as potential partner venues. From the responses we gathered there, along with a market trend of growing popularity and demand for going local and supporting independents, we were confident in going forward with it.

What were you doing before starting up?

Miles spent time in hospitality and events before running the marketing and customer experience at an ecommerce startup (which happened to feature in the Startups 100 index!) for four years.

Tim went straight into the military from school and spent six years there before moving into project management.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes. We were at school together and while our careers since then have been vastly different, whenever we catch up there was always one idea or another we were considering. We quite seriously looked into a number of different concepts before falling on RWRD.

How did you raise the money?

We raised our seed money privately, and are looking at opportunities for further growth and expansion.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

The app is completely free for users, while we charge our venues a small subscription fee each month.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

As with any startup, we’ve faced various challenges from building the product as we envisioned it, to identifying marketing channels and testing them within a budget; which tasks to prioritise when there’s a lot to do, etc. We spent a decent amount of time making sure that the design and build were correct, so once we launched to market it was a matter of switching focus to getting off the ground.

What was your first big breakthrough?

We were fortunate that we had traction from day one, with venues signing up to feature on the app on the day we launched. Launching to market, onboarding our first venues, having real (!) people download the app; users collecting stamps for the first time… the list goes on but they all felt like significant breakthroughs!

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Be confident in what you’re doing and your ideas. Yes, do thorough research and heed feedback from others; be honest with yourself about what challenges there might be and ensure you have an answer as to how you’d overcome them. But once you have done so and you have something you believe in then run with it, develop it stage by stage and if you keep doing that, you’ll be getting somewhere in no time.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

We have growth plans to support independents and small businesses across the country, as well as building out our product offering to further do this. For now and the foreseeable, we want to grow – we’ll see what that looks like in five years!

Keen to read more about more new businesses?

See more Just Started profiles here!

Written by:
Scarlett writes for the energy and HR sections of the site, as well as managing the Just Started profiles. Scarlett is passionate about championing equality and sustainability in business.
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