Vancouver Entrepreneurs: Spruik

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Spruik

Word of mouth is a beautiful thing. It’s the most effective and most cost efficient marketing weapon out there, however, the catch is that it’s typically out of the business’s control. Some businesses have referral programs but few can execute them correctly. Three Australians co-founders who now live in Vancouver, created Spruik, a turnkey solution for businesses to create an effective referral program in under five minutes. After all, what customer wouldn’t want to receive sweet discounts for talking about the businesses that they love?

1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and what inspired you to create it.

Spruik is an online platform for consumers to refer their favorite businesses to family and friends in return for a cash reward. The person who received the referral also gets a sweet discount, and the business – of course – gains a new customer. It’s all about creating a win-win-win scenario!

We decided to build Spruik because there are so many local businesses that deserve to grow based on the merit of their service. However, many of them don’t have the time or resources to design their own referral program, let alone pay for a customised solution! So we put our heads together & designed a platform where any business can create their own referral program in less than five minutes!

All three of us co-founders are Aussies and we chose to move to Vancouver not only because it looked sunny and beautiful in all the picture on the internet, but also because it known for being a North American hub for the latest technology start-ups.

2. This looks like it has overlap with daily deal sites and affiliate marketing companies, please talk about competition and other companies that emulate some of the services Spruik offers.

Unlike daily deal sites, we’re not focused on customers who just want the latest deal. Our focus is on getting high quality customers to a) discover new businesses, b) recognize the value of their products or services, and c) become regulars. We also make sure that a business doesn’t lose money in the acquisition of a new customer. It’s important that our businesses grow profitably because that’s what we’re here for! Also, as opposed to typical affiliate marketing companies, Spruik empowers local businesses by giving them their own easy-to-use referral marketing program.

3. How has Vancouver’s rising start-up community played a role in the development of Spruik? 

Having relocated from Australia to Vancouver to begin Spruik, we have been overwhelmed by the support and assistance we have received from the Vancouver tech & start-up community. Not only have we participated in amazing programs such as New Ventures BC and ACETEC Market Validation Program (both of which we can highly recommend), we have also gained some amazing mentors through the help of BCIC and BCTIA. The vibe for tech start-ups here in Vancouver is so strong at the moment. All you need to do is take a trip down to Wavefront or Launch Academy to see it for yourself!

4. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?

Our biggest challenge so far has been that none of the founders can actually code! Therefore, right from the beginning we had to hire a development team to release our initial beta version. Luckily, based on its success, we secured a partnership with a local design & development agency SplitMango Media Inc. This partnership has strengthened our overall development capacity and allows us to stay ahead of the market.

5. What core problem are you specifically solving for Vancouverites? 

Over 90% of referrals occur verbally in everyday scenarios. However most people don’t realise that the #1 reason a recommendation isn’t acted upon is due to forgotten or lost business details! Not only is this frustrating for the person receiving the referral, but also for the business that has no influence over the outcome. Spruik is the magic bullet to these issues.

6. What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
It’s got to be Kurt Furney. He’s a famous Australian Paralympian but he never let his condition stop him from achieving his goals. He’s noted for conquering the extremely challenging Kokoda Trail in Papau New Guinea. So, he’s not an entrepreneur in the typical sense, but for us, entrepreneurship is about passion, commitment, and determination to succeed. And that’s why there’s no one better to draw inspiration from than Kurt Furney.

7. What Vancouver celebrity would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?

Mark Brand from Save on Meats. He is a successful entrepreneur who has stayed true to his passion while striving to help the local community. We’d love to have him as a member of our team to teach us how to better engage with the local community. Helping local businesses is a big focus for us, so Mark Brand’s experience would be amazing! Plus – who wouldn’t want a team member who owned a butcher!

8. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?

Stay persistent, stay focused, and most importantly, have fun! It’s not every day you get to be the chief of a company, even if it is self-appointed!

*End of interview*

It’s very cool to see international entrepreneurs notice the growing startup scene in Vancouver and leverage it to create their own business and contribute to our local economy. Especially with Australians, we all know how much they typically love the mountains and great outdoors! Spruik has a solid idea for tackling the referral marketing market and if local businesses start to see results from this particular way of creating referrals (meaning consumers really embrace this platform) then it could do our economy some good and give businesses the recognition and business they rightfully deserve.

How it works video: http://vimeo.com/51929829

You can follow Spruik on Facebook and Twitter.

Stay in touch with me at @pauldavidescu and see what else I’m up to here, and here.

*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to paul@vancitybuzz.com to explain why you’re a fit*

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About the author

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Paul Davidescu Founder of Tangoo, the pocket concierge app that delivers the most personal and seamless way to organize the perfect social outing at restaurants and social venues matched to your mood: (www.tangoo.ca/app). Former editor of Vancouver Entrepreneurs series, UBC Sauder alumni, public speaker, startup mentor.
@pauldavidescu

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