Browsing the Internet on the go is today a reality, and habit thanks to the increased number of smartphones in hands of the consumer. So being connected in a hotel, restaurant and movie theatre is nothing uncommon. However for the experience to be really seamless and connectivity to really make an impact, internet infrastructure needs to take off. Internet is a major business enabler and today there are many ventures using the medium to do business. One such venture effectively tapping the power of internet is ThinkScream from Mumbai. Started by Raj Desai and Pratik Agarwal in 2011, ThinkScream took shape when the duo was still pursuing their graduation.
What ThinkScream does is, on one hand it allows customers to enjoy free browsing at a retail point and on the other hand, it helps brands engage with customers through customized web apps created by the startup. ThinkScream provides WiFi solutions with customized Web based applications for its clients. “Our USP lies in integrating WiFi and RFID technology to solve operational and process issues faced by number of business verticals today,” says Raj. The technology provides a secure and authorized platform to malls, cinemas, cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals or any local retail outlet who wish to reach out to their customers and interact with them via the internet.
Pratik assures us that it is not as complicated as it sounds. WiFi based Web Apps are customized for the clients by understanding their pain points in business, says Pratik. The idea is to make customer an active participant and let him perform basic tasks of ordering, buying, sharing etc. while at the retail outlet without any hassle and without having to wait in long queues. The prime concern for many retail outlets is to attract customers to the outlet and get them to spend more time there. One way to increase footfalls and walkins could be by offering free WiFi to customers. Business within the outlet can be further enhanced, by providing customers an interface within the outlet in the form of customized web apps designed to help connect business and users directly. The application can be designed in such a way that it shows various offers, products and unique items available at the retail outlet.
ThinkScream has two solutions they offer – ThinkScream Connect and ThinkScream Proximity. “ThinkScream-Connect is designed to harness the power of WiFi networks to enhance user experience. Cinemax saw a noted increase in their monthly cafe sales because customers could now order directly off their devices,” explains Raj.
ThinkScream Proximity as a tool helps retail outlets understand consumer purchase behaviour and create customized offers to entice customers coming to the outlet. Retail outlets can collect data of consumer purchase behavior at the back end, analyze buying patterns, customer profiles, and then create offers/strategies that the customer is most likely to accept. “ThinkScream Proximity comes to play where we try and create a direct connection of sales increase to products being sold. For example, during peak hours at bars/lounges, cash transactions are replaced by top up prepaid bands developed using RFID technology. These bands are worn over the hand and carry digitized information about the money to be spent and can be reloaded. This eases the hassle of maintaining record of payments made by each individual,” explains Pratik.Another key project done by ThinkScream, was designed by integrating WiFi and RFID technology for an event where the entire registration process was digitized to collect contact details of visitors attending the event. Exhibitors could tap the tags and open all the key information related to the visitor and see if the customer was a prospect for a potential business deal.
Desai says they partner with only those clients who agree to provide free WiFi experience to their customers. The cost is usually split into a one-time setup plus maintenance structure for WiFi. Setup costs are in the range of Rs 55,000 – Rs 2,75,000 per place/branch/locale depending on the area, bandwidth, apps required etc. While maintenance of the premise falls in the range of Rs 20,000 – Rs 45,000 depending on the above mentioned factors. If the total number of places to setup for a brand exceeds 20, then ThinkScream works on an ad based revenue share model. What clients benefit from this partnership is licensed and secure WiFi network connectivity authorized by TRAI, continual engagement with customer, increase in sales and repeat customers. “So any place where brands wants to interact with the audience either through social media, schedules, access controls or cashless payments, we have the solution and technology for them,” explains Pratik.
The key challenge that the startup faces though is convincing the client about their technology and how it can benefit them. Once the installation is done, the whole system runs smoothly. The six-member team alongwith freelance experts continuously work in setting up, installing and maintaining the technology. The equipment used is of high quality and therefore monitoring or maintenance can be done remotely and does not require the team to travel across.
Funds have not been a problem for the venture and Pratik says they have been fortunate to recover their investments. “It is not to say that we are not keen to explore external funding in future, but more so from the point of view of networking,” says Raj. Currently ThinkScream is in talks with major cafe brands, retail outlets, clubs, lounges and event organizers to use their solution. “My vision is to provide free WiFi access to as many public places where customers frequent and spend time. By using RFID as the main technology, we want to design apps to generate business for the brands and hence improve communication,” says Raj.