What does Soundpays do?
Soundpays enables advertisers and broadcast content providers to engage with its audience at an entirely new level: one where information or calls to action relating to the ad or broadcast can be retrieved by the viewer’s phone directly from the content, while they are actually watching it. We do this by sending out the supplemental information stream using ultrasonic sound wave technology. Of course, ultrasonic means that one cannot hear it.
The key advantage is that the advertisers and content providers can now instantly engage with the sub-section of an audience that is interested in their ad in what marketers refer to as the “power-of-the-moment”: that few seconds when one is viewing or listening to content that the brain focuses on the message and decides if it would like to learn more or like to purchase the item. Of course, today, nobody reacts in that key power-of-the-moment because it is too inconvenient to try to find the site, navigate through it and find whatever products were being advertised. Now, using Soundpays technology, it is easy for the viewer to instantly access the supplemental information and react to calls-to-action such as sign-up, register, request further information or a quote, download a discount coupon or even purchase the item directly from the ad, while actually watching the ad. The second key advantage is the attribution data that we generate.
This provides the advertiser with advanced information on who among the overall audience was sufficiently interested in the content to access the supplemental information. Of course, if they respond to a call-to-action, then the advertiser is already connected to the purchaser or potential customer. But, even if they do not click on a call-to-action response after accessing the information, Soundpays can report back to the advertiser the number and demographic profile of the interested viewers within an overall audience. This is revolutionary attribution information to the advertiser on the effectiveness of their ads or content. Today, all measurement approaches can only provide an estimate of the number of people who were in front of an ad playing on TV, OOH sign, etc., but have no way of measuring the sub-population which is interested in the content.
How did you/the founders come up with the idea?
The original Founder was on the Advisory Board of Shazam when they were in receivership. He advised them to use their technology for instant engagement and mobile purchases. When it was determined that Shazam technology was not capable of doing this, he set out to create a company to devise a way to use soundwave technology in a faster and more secure manner to enable the vision of Soundpays.
Could you tell us a bit about you and your team?
I, Steve Doswell, am the CEO. I have spent time in executive positions with major technology enterprises such as GM of Ericsson Canada and COO of AOL Canada. However, more importantly, I have done three startups in Canada in the past; all three of which we grew to >400 employees when acquired. We also did two successful IPOs along the way. Two of the companies were acquired by major US entities (Walgreens and PSINet) and the third by a Canadian entity.
Bill Bryer, who is responsible for our BD in North America was part of the founding teams of two Canadian head offices for foreign companies: Williams Communications and Tandenburg. He helped make both of them very successful in Canada before being acquired; the first by Telus Canada and the second by Cisco. He then spent 5+ years with Cisco where he grew their F.I. business in Canada by a substantial amount.
Doug Sutherland, our CTO is a well know Canadian technology figure. He was responsible for the delivery of Timeplay and the Tim Horton’s Double-Double card in Canada; both of which are exceptionally popular and widely used app/product. He has managed dev teams of up to 75 people and has delivered enterprise solutions to major brands.
What are the other alternatives to Soundpays?
There are a number of technologies that could compete with us in specific environments (beacons for short range within malls, fingerprinting for TV, geotargeting for stadiums) but we think that in all cases our technology is the best in each specific scenario, and certainly the only one that works in all environments. Thus, a big part of our positioning is the omni-channel capability. Ultrasonic technology is also used in a variety of industries for many purposes, but none are utilizing the technology in the same “direct-to-consumer-from-content” and “see-it-buy-it” ways. To this end, we feel that our patent positions us as the fastest and the most immune to competing noise than any of the other ultrasonic technologies out there.
Who is your target customer?
Major advertisers (retailers or brands) and major app/wallet providers are the key users of the technology. In North America we sell directly to such brands. Internationally, we look for key market players who will license the technology from us and then bring together a community of advertisers, media channels (TV, OOH, online, stadium) and apps/wallets to create the new business in that country. This is the model that we adopted for our first export market, Switzerland, and it has worked very well.
How does your product make a difference to the industry?
New innovation in improving the efficiency of advertising and mobile commerce. It represents a next-generation approach to advertising, advertising measurement, commerce and access to information. Ultimately the consumer benefits by being able to react in the power-of-the-moment to content of interest and to frictionlessly purchase the items that they want from anywhere at any time.
What are the milestones for Soundpays?
The key milestones that we have achieved are: international patent filings, generating revenue starting Q4 2018 and first international license in 2019. We have a company guidebook of key success factors in four areas: Tech dev and R&D; North American BD, international expansion and fundraising. Japan is our only targeted new market for 2020 and it may also help to contribute to our 2020 fundraising targets. Post-Demo Day we hope to develop on-going commercial relationships with Hankyu and Yomiuri, ones that may be able to encourage other Japanese prospects such as LINE, Dentsu and Rakuten to move faster in adopting the technology. We also hope that our increasing presence in major Japanese brands will lead to interest from Japanese VCs in joining our investor team.
Why did you start targeting Japan?
Japan is a major market that we felt would embrace the Soundpays technology. With >110 million population and an advanced advertising and mobile sector coupled with a high consumerism and convenience mentality, we felt that all of the attributes were present for a successful adoption. We definitely see Japan as our gateway to the rest of Asia. Once successful here, we should be able to springboard into the other major Asian jurisdictions. We felt comfortable in starting our Asian presence in Japan due to Japan’s established western business principles.