Tech Pitch: Quikkly

Aiming to make every ad "instantly buyable", the alternative QR code start-up founders explain why their solution opens doors for retailers...

Company name: Quikkly Ltd
Founders: Ken Johnstone (44) and Fergal Walker (43)
Background: Johnstone has worked on mobile products since mobile began, spending time at Psion Computers, Motorola, 3, Hutchison Whampoa, and was most recently Chief Product Officer and CEO at INQ Mobile. Walker is a business management professionnal with primary experience in mobile and internet spaces; previous companies  include Ericsson, 3, Facebook and the Modern Times Group.
Based in: London

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • Quikkly’s scanner can easily be added to any smartphone app to let users scan Quikkly Tags.
  • Quikkly Tags lets consumers engage or buy things instantly from print, displays, magazine ads or posters – just like clicking a button online. Single or multiple items are placed into an online shopping basket and can be bought with one click.
  • The app allows retailers or publishers to design custom Action Tags and let customers make real-world purchases in seconds with minimal friction and a consistent branded experience.
  • We also have our own scanner app.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

Trends in the retail sector are showing that convenience is king, not always price and today’s consumers want the convenience of “on-demand shopping” in the real world too, which is where Quikkly provides a solution.

Fuelled by digital innovation, our world is speeding up. Nowhere is this more apparent than in retail, where consumers are getting accustomed to an on-demand online buying experience, with purchases happening in a matter of seconds, not minutes.

Online shopping in particular has transformed people’s expectations – we now expect to be able to order anything, anytime, anywhere, with the click of a button. Any delay, whether that be queues in-store, limited time windows for delivery or lack of stock make us increasingly annoyed and likely to give up on a potential sale.

Our app bridgse online and offline environments with scanning technology which has been designed to be integrated into retailers’ or publishers’ existing apps; helping a consumer make a real world purchase in just a couple of seconds with minimal friction.

Are you funded?

We’ve received £1.5m in investment. Read more about this here.

What were you doing before starting?

Walker was on a plane, flicking through a magazine and it occurred to him how difficult it is to buy an item from a print advert. Readers have to remember what they have seen, or search online, or search a physical store. He thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if there were a ‘Buy’ button just like the online world?’.

Both Walker and Johnstone had experimented with QR (Quick Response) codes and AR (augmented reality) – which can be a great, immersive experience – but felt that there was an opportunity for something visually simple and instant that delivers consumer convenience and clear commercial opportunities to advertisers. Every print ad should be instantly buyable. It felt so obvious that Johnstone and Walker decided to quit their jobs and start Quikkly.

What’s the best thing about where you’re based?

We’re currently based at TrueStart, the retail innovation accelerator, which has been great for us. We consider ourselves experts in mobile products and marketing, but had limited experience of retail tech. TrueStart gave us the opportunity for intensive learning about retail whilst simultaneously building the Quikkly business.

London is amazing because there’s a great engineering talent pool and big and growing, energized start-up community. In London it somehow seems normal to give up a well-paid corporate job to take on risk and do something innovative that you passionately believe in. There is also a decent investment community at all levels.

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