Wes Schroll and Tyler Kennedy of Fetch

(Header photo by Chris Schroll)

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Wes Schroll (CEO) and Tyler Kennedy (VP – Operations) of Fetch, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Fetch – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

The path from business plan to Fetch Rewards as it is today was not a straight road. The idea started as a vision of how to change the way brands reward shoppers, and that is precisely what our business is achieving today. However, at the idea’s conception, the technology and the industry were not ready. Proof of purchase technology was clunky, and the industry was still content and not yet fully aware of the impending disruptions. We (Wes and Tyler) realized this, and instead, took advantage of the available resources and team to create a shopping app aimed at giving shoppers a better in-store shopping experience. As the business grew, we realized that the rate of adoption needed by retailers to sustain the business simply was not there. It was either innovate or fold up shop and risk everything the investors, mentors, and employees had put into the company. Taking stock of the situation, we recognized that while the scale was slow, the team had built inroads with some of the largest packaged goods companies, such as Kraft Heinz, MillerCoors, and Unilever. With them, we reworked our original concept and launched a second platform aimed at building a first-of-its kind, coalition-based loyalty rewards program. With that, Fetch Rewards as it exists today was born.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Loyalty programs are not new. Everyone wants loyal customers. However, previously, companies have tried to do reward programs as one-offs such as My Coke Rewards and Kellogg’s Family Rewards. The issue with programs like that is that they’re only focused on their best customers: people who were already buying enough of that brand to earn a meaningful reward. We realized early on that if you could bring the right companies together, you could give shoppers even more value and lift all ships. This business model in the loyalty space has been attempted at the retailer level, but it has never been successfully accomplished at the brand level. A program through which shoppers could get rewarded for buying any of the participating brands (at any store, at any time) simply had not been done.

We also needed the ability to confirm proof of purchase of a product, whether it was purchased at Walmart or at Joe’s Corner Grocer. We started to do our due diligence, looking into the technologies that were available, and we realized that receipt reading was just reaching a tipping point where we believed it would actually be able to read all items on every receipt. That meant we could reward users for any purchase across the U.S. With this capability in hand, we launched the Fetch Rewards application in early 2017. We are now on version two of our receipt-reading capability, and are now reading, deciphering, and rewarding receipts in real time. We have also begun to accept eCommerce receipts via a new technological advancement. From here, we plan to continue to enhance the user experience and giving shoppers the easiest way to reward themselves for purchasing the brands they love.

What does the future hold for Fetch?

By the end of the year, we aim to reach 6 million users and 30 receipt scans per second. In addition to growth in volume, we also plan to broaden the ways in which we reward shoppers by accepting restaurant receipts in addition to the current grocery focus. In the long term, we believe we will become the trusted center for all shopping, and shoppers will use Fetch to streamline the entire process, from planning to fulfilling to getting rewarded.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Madison?

The local tech startup scene in Madison is diverse and ever changing. We see successful startups coming from people of all backgrounds, and the community has come together to nurture this entrepreneurial spirit. From meetups and mentors getting together with capital entrepreneurs to one of the top startup accelerator programs (Gener8tor), the ideas that are coming out of our community are remarkable. We are constantly inspired by people who see an issue and build a business focused on solving that problem for the betterment of humanity.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Talk about your business with everyone. By sharing your idea, you’ll get feedback from those around you to help improve your business, and you’ll be introduced to others who can help you grow. Use this to find a mentor – somebody who has done it and who can coach you to get from where you are to where you want to be.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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