In this issue, I examine Stampify, a non-profit social enterprise offering a loyalty card with a few slight twists on the traditional loyalty cards we are accustomed to. Instead of accruing discounts, credits or a free coffee after collecting a certain amount of stamps, Stampify is a loyalty card for charity. My chat with Conor Leen, co-founder and CEO of Stampify, helped to understand the motivation behind starting the company, how they operate and their ambitions for Stampify down the line.
Firstly, for those who don’t know about Stampify, it is a rewards-based loyalty programme with a focus on giving back to others. For every seven stamps collected, instead of getting a free coffee, you feed a child in the developing world for two weeks. This is facilitated by Mary’s Meals, whom Stampify have partnered with. What’s more, using Stampify isn’t limited to one particular store; you can mix and match stamps between different businesses, which is pretty nifty if you ask me. The genesis for the idea stemmed when Conor realised he didn’t have a genuine need for Tolteca’s stamps, and would have preferred to donate them to someone who did.
This is all good in theory, but what if your favourite cafe or burrito place isn’t a partner business (save yourself the effort; Tolteca are a partner!)? Well, the team have secured many great locations as partners, so this should be the least of your worries. I was intrigued at the businesses on board already, which appeared to be predominantly small local companies. I wondered if this had been a tactical choice made by design. ‘’With larger companies, there is a lot of inertia with them… when you’re talking to smaller business owners, the decision is made there and then’’, explains Conor. There was also the added consideration of waiting for the development of their app before approaching larger clients. With the app rolled out (see paragraph below), Stampify aspires to work with larger franchises. As with everything in business, this will entail certain obstacles. Though the company has received very little resistance from companies adopting the concept once it’s explained to them, says Conor, the majority of pushback comes from ‘’businesses with their own app who are afraid of cannibalisation’’.
Stampify launched their app in March 2020, allowing users to ditch the physical cards and go digital. I asked Conor how they coped with the introduction of the app. ‘’Doing good so far’’, he replies, ‘’though we had a big enough job of transitioning all of our current partners from the paper loyalty card to the app’’. That hefty task took the team a full weekend of work, a job well worth it if Conor’s prognosis that the app will become more popular than the physical card alternative proves correct. It won’t be as straightforward as that though; ‘’our current challenge is changing our users’ behaviour from using a paper card to an app, which will take time’’. From using the app myself, its intuitive design and aesthetics should convince people to adopt it quite rapidly.
The Stampify team members, who have contributed funding towards the business, work on the business voluntarily and in tandem with their “day jobs”, in Google, Pointy, Deloitte, Aldi and ESB no less. It’s an arduous, time-consuming process for the team but, evidently, they manage it well. It currently remains a part-time effort, though this may change depending on where the venture goes. They meet on a weekly basis and allocate targets to hit. Though they each have designated roles based on their expertise, the lines between positions is oftentimes blurred. But, according to Conor, “there’s nothing wrong with this… we have a very capable team who are each able to excel in different elements.” It’s impressive to see people sharing responsibilities efficiently at such a young age; I find young entrepreneurs to shy away from getting help and attempting to balance it all themselves, usually with dire consequences.
The team’s bold idea has paid off. I asked for Conor’s advice for young entrepreneurs thinking of venturing into a social enterprise, to which he quipped “to go for it… build a prototype at a low cost… look at what you want to build/create, and make a MVP that will act as a proof of concept to raise funding to get you to the place you want to be.” What if it fails, I hear you scream? “You’ll learn a lot about entrepreneurship and yourself along the way, which will be invaluable.” I don’t think I could have put it better myself. Next time you’re out for a coffee or a bite to eat, why not ask yourself if you genuinely need that stamp for yourself? If you can live without it, I would recommend using Stampify; it’s seamless and contributes a great deal towards helping kids in the developing world, at no cost at all to you.
Alex Lohier – Deputy Editor