Swogo: Anthony Ng Monica
Free online service designed to help consumers make purchase decisions in 60 seconds
Tell us what your business does:
Swogo is a free online service which offers the simplest way to make the best purchase decisions. More people are shopping online than ever, but choosing the right product still isn’t easy. Search engines point users to information, not answers, and online reviews are contradictory, boring, and time-consuming.
The average person spends three weeks looking for a laptop. Swogo aims to bring this down to just 60 seconds. On Swogo, a user simply has to answer a short series of easy-to-understand questions about the product or service they’re looking for. From this, our advanced algorithm can recommend them the best product for their needs, alongside a tailored explanation as to why it suits them. It’s easier than talking to an expert in store.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
While working as an IT support analyst, I was consistently asked for help choosing the right laptops, tablets, and other gadgets and electronics for their needs. Despite keeping up-to-date with the market, I would have to search for hours across several sources to find the right product. I thought, “If this is hard for me, how hard is it for people without technical knowledge?” There had to be an easier way. After conducting initial research, I saw a market opportunity, from which our team began to develop Swogo.
How did you know there was a market for it?
We conducted primary market research into purchasing consumer electronics, discovering that 77% of consumers are overwhelmed by the technical specifications they find, and the average person spends three weeks buying a laptop. 66% of users told us that they find it too tedious to research online. By looking at the market, we discovered the success of our competitors, such as Sortable and FindTheBest, including the limitations of their services, which we hoped to improve upon. Research into the UK, US, and Global Consumer Electronics market also demonstrated to us the market size for an opportunity such as ours.
What were you doing before starting up?
I am currently studying BSc Business Economics at Westminster University. I started as an IT Support Analyst at the UK’s leading executive search firm, Odgers Berndtson, where the need for a service like Swogo became apparent. I have also worked as part of two startups, Seedrs, and as the Head of Business Development at Student Money Saver. Moreover, I have experience working for venture capital firm DFJ Esprit, allowing me to increase my understanding of the consumer Internet industry. Most recently, I also worked as a freelance digital marketer, alongside co-founder Ivor Stankov, working with early stage start-ups.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, running my own business has been a dream of mine for some time. The thrill and freedom has always appealed to me, and I enjoy the environment at Swogo. We work hard, but we also enjoy working alongside each other, and have a good team culture. I enjoy the flexibility, as my role changes on a day-to-day basis.
How did you raise the money?
We raised money on crowdfunding platform Seedrs, the first UK Crowdfunding Platform to be FSA-regulated. Although the limitations and ‘risks’ of crowdfunding are so often discussed, we had a straight-forward and safe experience on the platform, and were able to connect with a number of seasoned investors who added time and value, as well as capital, to our business idea.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Finding a developer on the budget of a start-up can often be difficult. However, having a good developer is key to building a strong product. We struggled for a while to find someone to join our technical team, led by one of our founders Dimitar Kazakov, who’s a developer himself. We now work alongside developers in Portugal, who have been absolutely fantastic.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We currently use an affiliate business model, where we receive a 5% to 9% commission on purchases made through us. In the future, we hope to implement a subscription business model, selling real-time consumer purchase intent data.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Raising our investment on Seedrs was extremely important to us, especially as, at the time, we were the fastest start-up on the platform to do so. Since then, our biggest breakthrough was winning the NACUE Varsity Pitch Competition in November, as it helped to validate our idea, and give us the final push before launch.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Share your idea. Many entrepreneurs are protective over their ideas, but it’s important to receive feedback from seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and the general public. We found that a variety of different people have added a great deal of value to our service.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I hope that in five years’ time, Swogo will have become the first port of call for all meaningful purchases. I want us to be seen as experts in our field, and a service which users feel they love and trust.