Amber: Hi, welcome to BusinessMakers. I’m Amber Ambrose and my guest today is Ali Chaudhry or TapToBook. Ali, welcome to the show.
Ali: Hi Amber. Thank you for having me.
Amber: So, Ali, tell me about TapToBook.
Ali: TapToBook, ok. It’s actually a very simple concept. What we did is we designed a platform that allows businesses to message customers across multiple channels and transact right on the spot. So, you can think of it as a last-minute sales boost, and really what it does is it hits text, email, and social media and the customer can click purchase right on the spot. It’s a way for businesses to drive that traffic exactly to the times that they need it.
Amber: Ok, and it sounds like maybe it’s based around a business that would require an appointment or reservation of some sort. Is that true?
Ali: Yes, we started as an appointment-based business but the application is so simple to use that it’s actually extended across multiple categories. We’re up to about twelve categories right now ranging from salon and spa, to automotive, fitness, medical, so any business—restaurants and retail as well, so any business that kind of needs to get the word out, we’re able to reach more people and you can think of it as MailChimp or Constant Contact on steroids because you’re using text and social. We all know text and social are kind of where people are going, right?
Amber: So, you’re hitting them at all ends to make sure you’re going to where they are, they don’t have to come to where you are.
Ali: That’s right. And I think that the key here is what’s interesting is 70% of the digital money is spent on Google and Facebook. They charge you a lot of money, drive traffic, but what happens to that traffic? TapToBook is actually that net that catches it, catches the traffic and converts it to revenue. So, if somebody comes on the site and you have our link, you can actually convert them directly from Facebook down to a sale.
Amber: So, it sounds like the big selling point for you is you’re not just an awareness campaign, which I will say, that’s probably important up front because you just can’t hit them and people are like, who is this company? But you’re converting them directly in real time.
Ali: That’s right. And what a lot of our business is, the messages come directly from them, so it looks like it’s coming from somebody you know, someone you’re familiar with. The open rates are three times higher than traditional email, and our conversion funnel pushes them down to take the action that the business wants them to take so you actually walk out with revenue. With digital ads, even the big agencies are struggling right now because they can’t show returns. With us, it’s very simple. You know how much you spend and you know how much you make. So, every month you’ve got a positive return, keep us around.
Amber: Why is TapToBook located here in Fort Lauderdale? And why are you here, Ali?
Ali: That’s an interesting question. It’s funny, when I told my former colleagues I was moving to Florida they all think I’m retiring and playing golf.
Amber: And where did you come from?
Ali: I was an investment banker with Merrill Lynch, so I spent twelve years on Wall Street. It was a very high intensity, enjoyable experience. I advised companies on IPOs, and mergers and acquisitions in the tech and media space, and so I was seeing a lot of the leading media companies trying to make that shift from old media to new media. While I was there one of my clients, which is Zia, his company Synechron, I used to actually work with them a bit, and he happens to be my cousin, so we go back a long way, both personally and professionally. He was always an entrepreneur at heart and he kind of mentioned this idea that he had about driving traffic to slow times, you know, intersecting with some of what I was seeing on the media side, and he basically, we hatched out the idea. I agreed to basically leave my job after twelve years of travel and fancy client dinners and pack it up. We sold our places and moved down to south Florida to basically start from zero. It’s been an incredible experience. I got Zia as an advisor, so we end up working pretty closely together on solving the problem and actually helping businesses become more profitable.
Amber: And how far back does this company go?
Ali: We actually started about three years ago so we’re kind of right at that three-year mark.
Amber: You’re definitely a startup.
Ali: Yeah, we are a startup. We have started generating revenue in the last six months, which is–
Ali: Thank you very much. It took about two years to get that product market fit. Got a lot of good feedback from the front lines, changed the product to what people, what was generating results, and now this year we’re really focused on accelerating some of the growth we’ve seen. We’ve landed some national brands, like Planet Fitness and Hand and Stone, and so when they’re seeing that they can triple their results with the broader reach, it’s becoming a no brainer. I think this year is a year for large corporate accounts for us.
Amber: I know a big basis of the technology that you’re utilizing is AI. How does that integrate into your system?
Ali: So, that’s actually a very interesting point. What ends up happening is our system, one of the most valuable elements is that we capture a lot of really interesting data on the consumer behavior, right? Which messages do they respond to? What channels do they prefer? What price points drive the most traffic? What time of day? So, we’re collecting all this info which allows us to then turn around and automate campaigns that are much more relevant.
Amber: At optimal times, in optimal channels, for optimal services.
Ali: That’s exactly right. I think a lot of what’s happened in the market is there’s these general blasts out there, but the more relevant you can make a message to the end user, it exponentially increases the chance that they’ll interact with it. So, that’s where our AI, we collect the data and then automate campaigns that leverage some of that intelligence.
Amber: That makes sense. Well, what is a price point for a company to buy into a technology like this?
Ali: The price point is actually between $49 and $199 a month. It’s sold as a subscription.
Amber: So, it’s a subscription.
Ali: That’s right. I think what we found is that companies feel much better knowing exactly what they’re paying versus taking a percentage of. So, it’s good for us and it’s good for them, and it’s very easy for them to then measure the return; how much do you make versus how much are you spending.
Amber: Gotcha. Thank you so much for joining us, Ali.
Ali: Thank you very much, Amber.
Amber: Once again, this is BusinessMakers. I’m Amber Ambrose here with Ali Chaudhry of TapToBook. Thanks for joining us.
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