Like many ideas - both good and bad - the Yapster story began in the pub. I met Craig McMillan – Yapster’s CTO and co-founder – back in 2015 while I was working as a company lawyer. He’s a Cambridge-educated electronic engineering and computer science graduate, and I had seen first-hand the difficulties big businesses face when trying to innovate through technology. We knew we wanted to bring their two worlds together and started coming up with product ideas, but had not yet found our muse.
The breakthrough came while we were considering a product for the retail sector and got a tip from Kingfisher’s group general counsel at the time. She said businesses like hers could really use a piece of technology that could supercharge the customer experience by mobilising their workforce… And the idea for Yapster was born.
Yapster is a mobile messaging app that allows for company-wide communication in a secure, closed network environment. We visualised a reliable, company controlled alternative to WhatsApp that’s specifically tailored to the needs of ‘deskless workers’ - i.e. those that don’t routinely use a computer during their day. Staff can use the app to send 1-2-1 and group messages, initiate flash polls, and post to the company newsfeed. Easy to use, and available on mobile and desktop, we designed Yapster to be both highly intuitive and fun.
Three years on from that first conversation, we’re now working with some of the best-known names on the high street, including Ann Summers, Caffe Nero and Krispy Kreme (yes, that does sound like a great night in!). Our customers share our belief that creating a company culture in which everyone feels motivated and valued is key to delivering a first-class customer experience. This vision is at the core of our approach to growing brand awareness, which means getting out to speak to as many people in the industry as possible as well as sharing our thoughts and insights on the key issues that affect our customers via our PR, blog and other digital channels.
Since we started, digital communications tools for the market have become more sophisticated. Larger players like Facebook Workplace and Microsoft have moved into our space. But we’re not daunted by having to compete with some of the biggest technology companies in the world. First of all, it’s great validation for our value proposition. But we’re also confident that our focus on a relatively narrow market segment and our product and price differentiation will allow us to punch far above our weight in this expanding market.
One of the significant changes that are fuelling this growth is GDPR. From next month, we believe there will be considerable financial and reputational risks for companies that continue to rely on non-enterprise messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger.
This window of opportunity is one of the factors that influenced our decision to fundraise on Crowdcube. By raising £650,000, we will have the capital we need to invest in our development and operations teams to meet growing demand and also in marketing to accelerate our new customer acquisition.
We have also planned to ring-fence a portion to strengthen our balance sheet so we can bid for the most substantial contracts. We estimate our addressable market to be worth more than £1bn in the UK alone so we genuinely believe that we can scale to become a leading retail tech player not just here, but internationally.
You can find out more about Yapster and the investment opportunity by visiting our pitch page here.
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