One to watch
Lee Clarke, CEO and Founder, Bink
1. Where did the business begin?
The app was inspired back in 2014 – I was at the airport with my family, stocking up on holiday supplies in Boots. We realised that we’d forgotten our Advantage Cards and were about to miss out on £300 worth of Advantage points. The process all just seemed so archaic to me and the more I thought about it the more interested I became in creating a product that could update the industry. That’s when I came up with the idea of payment-linked loyalty you may not always have your loyalty cards on you but you do always have your payment cards. I discussed the idea with my friend and co-founder Greg Gormley and we saw the opportunity to streamline the loyalty industry and haven’t looked back since. It began with a handful of us mapping out ideas around my kitchen table and now we already have a team of over 60 people across two-sites – I’m very proud of everything we’ve achieved so far.
2. What services do you offer?
Bink is a payment linked loyalty app which takes away the need for plastic loyalty cards. Consumers simply scan their loyalty and payment cards into a free app, and from then on can automatically collect points and gain rewards from shops and retailers simply by using their payment card. This saves consumers both time and effort, as well as eradicating the need to carry around a wallet full of plastic. For brands, we offer a deeper customer insight, enhancing CRM opportunities, removing friction, increasing adoption onto loyalty schemes and improved operational efficiencies.
3. What’s the company’s biggest achievement so far?
We always knew the success of our business would hinge on securing partnerships with household name retailers. Taking established companies on a journey and showing them that adopting something new, that has never been done before, was a challenge that it feels great to be overcoming. The fact that the industry is now talking about Bink is an incredible achievement, especially as a few months ago our core-proposition didn’t even exist in the public domain. We are very proud to now be working with a number of major partners, including Morrisons, River Island, Virgin, Topman, Topshop and the list goes on.
4. Have you won any awards?
We were recently shortlisted for Best Payments Industry Newcomer at the Card and Payments Awards, having only just launched! We have a truly unique proposition and we’re growing fast, so watch this space.
5. What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about starting their own business?
Hire a CFO early on. I’ve seen a lot of start-ups employ a financial expert as an after-thought, or not at all, but if you’re not managing your funds effectively, and carefully considering how to attract investment, your business will be unable to survive. It was for this exact reason that I brought Greg on as CFO from day one, and it was the best decision I could have made.
6. What failures have you faced? How did you get through it?
I wouldn’t say we’ve experienced any major failures on our journey so far, only challenges. The biggest of which has been the initial resistance from people in the industry who thought Bink would never work. In those times, having a passionate and intelligent team, who believe in the product, can demonstrate how Bink is turbo-charging the loyalty industry, refuse to take no for an answer, and keep an eye on our mental, physical and financial reserves, helped us to continue pressing ahead.
7. What’s your USP?
Shortly put, payment-linked loyalty. Bink allows customers to shop as normal with the brands they already love, and automatically collect all their points and rewards, simply by paying with their existing payment cards. Users will never have to show a plastic loyalty card, paper coupon, or give a membership ID.
8. What’s been your proudest moment on your business journey?
Raising £10m in seed funding so early on in our business journey was a proud moment, because it showed there was real belief in our product and team to support and turbo-charge the loyalty industry.
9. Where do you hope, the business will go in the future?
We’re looking to secure 50 core retail partners by the end of 2017, and will be closing a £25m funding round later this year, which we plan to use to fuel our global expansion into the US, Europe, South Africa and UAE.