I recently read an article on TreeHugger by Katherine Martinko. The headline “UK Company Transforms Old Jeans into Stylish Sunglasses” caught my eye. Using old assets to create new products is something I’ve been focusing on lately and it intrigued me that this small company could make sunglasses out of discarded denim. Repurposing old material can be a cost effective to create new products and go to market faster.
If you own a small business or are an entrepreneur launching one you’ll understand the concept of building something out of not much. I look at it as using chewing gum, band aids and scotch tape to make great things. In this case the repurposed materials are your building blocks.
In the software world it’s not old jeans, but old software (or software assets) that can be used to create great new products.
In a recent project I was tasked with doing just that. My client had a mobile app solution for restaurants. The app allowed customers to earn reward points by checking in when they arrived at the restaurant and downloading mobile games, which could be played for additional reward points. The app also included a rewards store that allowed customers to redeem their points for an appetizer or entrée. The restaurant could upload new redemption items on the fly.
Sounds like a good idea. So, what’s the problem? The biggest issue was that creating an app for each restaurant was resource intensive. Each restaurant had unique needs and a “one size fits all” approach wasn’t working. The result was that scaling the solution with limited development resources was problematic and sales were slowed down.
When you’re faced with a situation in which your idea isn’t working what do you do? For me that answer was obvious. You rip it up and put it back together in a different way using the repurposed software as my building blocks (Or using chewing gum, band aids and scotch tape.)
Once again, the problem wasn’t that the restaurant app was a bad idea or that the software assets were no good. Quite the opposite, the software solution was excellent. The user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) were very good. This was a go to market and resource issue. How do you sell it, who sells it and how much does it cost to sell? In the end the question was does any go to market strategy and sales cost justify the potential revenue that each restaurant could generate. The answer was no.
Turning the Old into the New
So let’s sell something else. Using the assets of the reward store, rewards points, and the ability for behaviors, like checking in, triggering earned reward points we built a new product.
The Birth of Qwerty Coins
Qwerty Coins is an SDK platform that provides a virtual currency which mobile gamers and mobile app customers can use to purchase gift cards (or anything else that can be found in the rewards store). The SDK rewards players and users as they complete achievements within the app. Completing the achievements triggers Qwerty Coins to deposit coins in the users account. The account follows the user from app to app. The result is that the SDK creates an echo system of apps that becomes the glue which holds a community of mobile users together.
This is a big idea that was created by simply realigning the existing assets and building on top of them. It is a one size fits all solution and allows my client to be the manufacturer of the product. Channel partners do the selling and the clients complete any additional programming needed. The result is a scalable product that can be supported by a small operation.
Sticking with the repurposing theme, the other benefit of Qwerty Coins is that it’s proven to be an excellent platform to build complete apps on. Using the SDK we’ve created and launched two additional app products:
- Trivia Joint – a mobile trivia game that serves as a marketing tool for bars as well as beer, wine and spirit distributors. We were able to launch in less than a year (speed to market) with a go to market strategy that has resulted in actual paying clients in a short period of time.
- Social Casino Gaming – we launched a social casino app that serves the smaller casinos in the U.S. by increasing engagement with their active customer base and converting new customers. Again we were able to create a go to market strategy around this product that has resulted in a growing customer base and significant revenue generation.
So, using chewing gum, band aids and scotch tape can work. The products we’ve created are holding up and getting stronger every day. They were inexpensive to create, filled a need in the market and each new client we onboard requires minimum development time.
It’s been a lot of fun to watch.