Swogo helps consumers make expert purchase decisions in just 60 seconds.
Everyday consumers are faced with complex choices, be it shopping for electronics, buying a new car, or even booking a holiday. Making the best decision requires expert knowledge and too much time.
Our free online service asks users a short series of simple questions about their desired product or service. Put simply, our algorithm translates these answers into technical specifications and features, which allows us to recommend the ideal product for them at the best price, alongside a tailored explanation as to why it suits their needs.
We launched by providing high-quality recommendations for laptops in the UK. We aim to scale into the US soon as well as expand our product range. We believe the nature of our service will allow us to scale quickly and cost-effectively into different countries, product markets, and services, and our vision is to be the first port of call for all meaningful purchases.
We believe that Swogo will revolutionise the way consumers buy products and services. We want consumers to be able to make the same purchase decision as an expert, helping them save time, save money, and overall allowing them to be happier with their purchases. Although we are launching in the consumer electronics market, we know that it's not just gadgets that are difficult to buy. Holidays, beauty products, appliances, and even loans, are all difficult choices to make, and we want there to be an easier way to make the right decision. We want to make all meaningful purchases quick and simple.
Substantial accomplishments to date
We raised our idea-stage capital round of £17,500 on Seedrs in August 2012 with the objective to develop the most basic marketable form of Swogo - hiring an additional developer and contracting a designer.
In November, we won the NACUE Varsity Pitch Competition, securing a further £10,000 cash prize.
We managed to achieve our goals when we launched our public beta in December, providing high-quality recommendations for laptops to users in the UK. In our first month we provided over 1,000 recommendations, and dedicated ourselves towards improving our user experience and increasing our conversion rate. Now 22.8% of users who visit our site 'click' onto a third party retailer.
In February 2013, we closed a deal with a major price comparison service, which we are currently in the process of integrating. This would allow our users to find their desired product at the best price from a variety of retailers, and facilitate our expansion into the US market.
Swogo is also a finalist for Startupbootcamp Amsterdam, a European accelerator program for startups and a TechStars Global Affiliate. We believe that entry into the program will give us a number of incredibly valuable benefits, such as access to major players, including potential clients and acquirers, access to their worldwide network, increased valuation, as well as living expenses covered in the form of €15,000. If selected into the program, Startupbootcamp will receive 8% equity of Swogo, which would cause some dilution across all shareholders, including founders. Startupbootcamp's shares will only dilute on additional funding rounds over €4,000,000.
We have just closed a deal with a major price comparison service, which would allow us to use a PPC business model in the UK and US. With this, we would be paid for each click made from our service onto a third party retailer. We are currently in the process of implementing their technology to make this happen. At present, based on our paid traffic tests, we have found a 22.8% conversion rate of users visiting the site that head onto a third party retailer.
We are currently exploring additional business models:
Consumer Purchase Intent Data
We expect to collect a great deal of high-quality data about the active consumers using our service. This would include what specific budgets consumers have, and the exact features and specifications that they’re looking for. We plan to sell this consumer purchase intent data as a B2B offering, allowing retailers and manufacturers to make more informed decisions on their marketing strategies. We aim to sell this in real-time, so that our clients can see changes in the market as and when they occur. We are currently speaking to a number of relevant businesses in order to help price and tailor our offering.
In the future, we may implement our technology into e-commerce websites, allowing them to help their customers make the best purchase decisions. This would increase customer satisfaction, add a unique selling point to their offering, and help reduce returns. Also allowing us to access an increased sample size in order to collect more consumer purchase intent data.
Use of proceeds
£60,000 will allow us to progress rapidly over the next six months, gaining traction and scaling our service.
We would invest ~£20,000 into our product development, allowing us to contract an additional developer in order to help expand our product range (covering tablets, televisions, cameras, smartphones) and branch into the US. We will also be developing dynamic questions (a more advanced version of our current service), implement Swogo into distribution partners, create a mobile interface, and develop a smartphone application.
Each of our five founders, who will be working full-time on Swogo, would take a limited salary (~£600 a month), bootstrapping our personal finances in order to invest most of our capital into continued development.
We will invest ~£20,000 into our comprehensive marketing strategy, which we would track and refine on a day-to-day basis.
This will leave us with ~£2,000 for additional expenses, such as our accountant and web hosting.
Swogo is primarily a B2C company. More people are shopping online than ever - 96% of those who buy online will also conduct online research beforehand. This means that our customer base is potentially vast, and as such our target market is the general public based in urban locations. More specifically, our focus will be on younger consumers, aged 35 or younger. These are highly active consumers, early adopters, possess high amounts of disposable income, and Accenture found that they own more devices when compared to those aged 35-55+.
However, older consumers will not be disregarded, as currently many of them tend to engage more actively with traditional technologies, such as personal computers, laptops, and mobile phones. Our target market tends to spend a fair amount of time online, whether this is for work, play, or for social purposes.
In order to increase the conversion rate of our marketing efforts, we have identified seven niche target markets. This includes non-tech-savvy consumers, as well as parents. Non-tech-savvy consumers who know little about electronic products will often lack the time and motivation to conduct research on the subject. According to our primary market research, 77% of people asked found technical specifications of laptops and computers overwhelming, with 66% finding it tedious to research online. Our niche parent market will especially focus on the parents of undergraduate university students. Students who move out of their family homes to study often need new consumer electronic products, such as laptops, which are often purchased by their parents.
We are focused on targeting consumers in urban locations, who are more likely to be active consumers and early adopters. Moreover, our marketing will be directed at urban locations so that we can reach a wider audience more quickly and effectively.
Characteristics of target market
We are based in the UK consumer electronics industry, although plan to branch into the US in the upcoming weeks. The consumer electronics industry is fast-paced, with Decide. com finding that a new laptop is released every 4 hours, a new TV every 15 hours, and a new camera every 45 hours.
The UK Trade and Investment found that UK retail sales of consumer electronics in 2009 reached £10 billion, and that UK citizens spend more money on consumers electronics than any other country in Europe. They called the UK an "early adopter of consumer electronics".
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, each US household spent an average of $1,380 in 2010 on consumer electronics. Despite a recession, consumer electronics have thrived across the UK and US. As such, there is a vast market opportunity for Swogo, particularly as we feel there are no direct UK competitors.
As we scale into different countries, product markets, and services, our opportunity would further increase.
Anthony and Ivor plan to leverage their online marketing expertise, as both have held previous marketing positions with early stage startups. All of our marketing efforts will revolve around our three core brand values: evoking messages of trust, being helpful to our users, and being recognised as experts in our field.
We have developed a comprehensive marketing strategy in order to acquire users, which we will track and refine on a daily basis. We aim to drive sales through a number of different streams, such as SEO, Pay-Per-Click advertisements across major search engines, growth hacking, social media, and press.
Other ways in which we plan to acquire users include:
We hope to gain a number of distribution partners, who will implement Swogo onto their service or website. This would enable us to tap into an already established user base at no cost. We would then split all revenue generated between us.
In the future, we hope to utilise offline display advertisements in urban areas. We plan to do this using a marketing display fund. The marketing display fund is an advertisement that would be funded collectively by Swogo and other companies in the industry to give collective exposure and co-branding. It could be featured in major newspapers, magazines, and billboards.
We are aware of two main direct competitors, 'FindTheBest' and 'Sortable', as well as one major indirect competitor, 'Which?'.
'FindTheBest' and 'Sortable' allow users to apply technical filters on the criteria of the product they’re looking for. For instance, ‘I want my laptop to have a quad core processor’. This assumes that a user understands these technical specifications, when we found that 77% of consumers do not. As such, we believe that we are creating a more user-friendly approach, asking our users simple questions with multiple choice answers. Unseen to our user, our system would interpret their answers as technical specifications and features. We believe this will be a much more appealing proposition for consumers and give us a strong advantage against the competition.
'Which?' provides content in order to help less experienced users better understand the features and technical jargon that accompanies modern electronics. However, it doesn't provide direct recommendations, and its best content is hidden behind a paywall. Swogo is free to use, and requires no time, research, or understanding from the user, as we do all the work for them.