Loyalty cards done differently, with Thai entrepreneur Opie Lopansri of Get My Stamp
Opie Lopansri returned to Thailand after spending a few years in the United States. He graduated from University of Southern California and ran two non-tech businesses in the US before he decided to return home and start something in Bangkok.
The venture Opie started is in loyalty cards – not a new concept in Southeast Asian markets, but Opie claims they have figured out a better way of doing things in this space.
Let us find out from him about building Get My Stamp.
What is the venture about?
The idea of loyalty is not very new, it has been around for sometime, but we realized the current technologies are not as consumer friendly as they should be. While there are things like QR Codes and NFC, we think that is not the best way to execute a loyalty program. We started looking for something easier, and we could not find any, so we built our own technology. Our device called Stamper lets you receive stamps by stamping the screen of your smartphone, just like how you would stamp a paper card. Our technology is patent pending, and we believe we are the first ones to come up with this technology for loyalty. With a lot of pivots and step by step innovation, we figured that something like Stamper would work in Thai and other Southeast Asian markets.
We established our company in 2011, and launched our application Stamp and the device Stamper in October 2012. Over the past 9 months we have got about 120,000 downloads, 40% of our users are active. We have over 100 businesses on our platform, and about 500 Stamper devices distributed throughout Thailand. We are on with a good start!
We have 8 developers onboard, and 4 people on the business side. I met my co-founder while doing my MBA in Thailand. I do not have a tech background per se, but I have a really good team and we split up our management duties accordingly.
Acquiring new merchants and partnerships that helped
We have some strategic partnerships, that has helped us scale. We have a very good partnership with Citibank in Thailand, they do a lot of credit card promotions, and they also cross promote Stamper as part of it. We also work with many marketing agencies that are closely associated with large clients and merchants, they help us outreach as well.
I think in Thailand, businesses and people are opening more and more to technology. The tricky part however is, merchants have a lot of other things to worry about before they think about loyalty solutions like ours, so it is important to make the solution as easy as possible.
We are completely bootstrapped as of now. We are essentially looking to establish strategic partnerships with investors, who can help us scale in the region. Funding for the sake of it, is not something we are interested in it.
The entire ecosystem is very new in Thailand, the angel investors and entrepreneurs here are very new, there are no deep relations as of yet in the market. The ecosystem is very nascent compared to other matured markets.
Tech talent in Thailand
The tech scene in Thailand is very close knit. Everyone knows everyone. And the tech talent here is great. I love my development team and they are on par with anywhere else in Asia or the world.
Community in Bangkok
The Hubba guys are so good to the startup community in Bangkok. They work so selflessly to develop the community of entrepreneurs here, because they understand that if you can bring in resources from all over, it will make the situation in Thailand better for everyone. They are one of the top drivers of community here in Thailand. Guys at Ardent are building the infrastructure for e-commerce in Thailand and are doing some great work as well.
When I started Get My Stamp, Hubba just started out as well, and I had not known of them until a year. I wish I had known Hubba when I started out, it makes a lot of sense to spend time in co-working spaces because there are a lot of references there and your learning curve shortens significantly by spending time in such spaces. Now that there is a bigger community created by Hubba, young entrepreneurs should take advantage of the community.
Startups that are pushing the envelope for Thailand
Plans for growth
We want to keep distributing our devices and adding new merchants to our system. Right now we have about 500 devices in Thailand. We want that number to hit 1000 by the end of this year. We want to have a strong presence in Thailand before we expand internationally and start looking for partnerships elsewhere.