Interview App Founder – Frederick Szydlowski
Name Founder: Frederick Szydlowski (FS)
Name Company: Embargo Lifestyle
Name App: Embargo App
Category App: Hospitality
Free or Paid App: Free
Is the App created for a certain country/area or worldwide: London, with more cities to come next year !
As Founder of this fantastic App, what was your motivation to create such an App?
FS: “We identified a huge problem in many B2C industries – the disconnect between customers and businesses. This issue is experienced especially in the bar, restaurant and café industry. My business partners Tsewang and Nik saw it from a customer’s perspective, whereas myself from the venue’s side. This, followed by in depth research, led to a simple conclusion – time to connect loyal customers and businesses in the hospitality industry in a simple, hassle-free way.”
Why should App Users download this App?
FS: “Because we are an user’s everyday companion and require almost no effort from them. Users’ attention span is short, especially when eating or drinking out. Everything needs to be seamless and deliver what we all want – special perks, treatments and simple recognition for one’s loyalty. This is exactly what we do – as an user you only need to sign up once and from that moment whenever you walk in to an Embargo venue, you check in automatically, getting rewarded with welcome drinks, discounts or even complimentary meals or bottles of champagne.”
What are the advantages compared to other similar App’s?
FS: “From an user perspective, the main advantage is that everything works automatically and that we cover a variety of venues – from your favourite cafés, through famous lunch and brunch places, amazing cocktail bars to high end restaurants. All you need is to sign up once. No need to touch your phone or carry any stamp or loyalty cards.
From a venue perspective, we win by requiring very little effort to set up and to use the app during busy service. Managers and staff are occupied enough and do not want to deal with extra workload. They want to receive a simple and effective solution that does not disrupt the service and understands what they face and need. Marketing teams are always excited about new, interesting apps and platforms. However we cater and think about all aspects of the businesses we work with. This is why so many operational managers and directors say we are the only app they have ever enjoyed working with!”
Can you tell something about the process, challenges, hurdles and time spent from the moment you start (The Idea) till the moment you launched the App at the AppStore / GooglePlay?
FS: “The idea itself came around 2 years before going live on AppStore and Google Play, followed by an 1-year long beta phase. The idea seemed great but many great ideas end up not being feasible when you break them down and want to execute them. Therefore we took almost half a year to research the market to confirm the issue and the opportunity we saw. We were also meticulously following the development of the Bluetooth and beacon technology, wanting to make sure we would be first on the market but also not launch too early. The next half year was spent on developing aMVP, all done in house. Once the MVP was ready we started gathering feedback from venues, test-users and also investors. It resulted in signing up great bars and restaurants before even launching and also raising our first financing round. Finally in April 2017 we beta-launched on AppStore and Google Play. Whilst still focusing mainly on improving the concept and product based on users’ and venues’ feedback, more and more great bars, restaurants and cafes kept on joining showing huge excitement. We knew being pioneers meant a long beta phase but this lead to launching a version in April this year that is loved by both our clients and users.”
Once you launched the App in the Appstore / GooglePlay, what did you do to promote this App to your target audience (user group)? Do you think Applepies (as worldwide rating and reviewing Online App Magazine) can have a certain role in this?
FS: “We did not need to look for our key audience – we knew they are customers of the bars and restaurants we work with. Thefore the first year was mainly focused on in venue marketing and events. This not only delivered great results in terms of actively engaged users but also provided direct, almost instant feedback we used to grow and improve. We believe Applepies can deliver a very similar value, having the right audience which has the right know-how, experience and interests.”
You as a visionairy person, what is your view on the new technologies of the digital smartphone (App) world. Do you think that within 1 to 5 years App’s will be indispensable?
FS: “I think this already is the case. There are apps for almost everything we do in live. I cannot really think of many everyday activities that do have an app for. Just look around you or when traveling on the bus or tube in a city like London – most of the adverts are apps. Apple Pay and Androir Pay are common by now and in terms of talking to doctors, not only NHS released their own app but you can also find several impressive platforms that allow you to connect with specialists around the world curing the toughest illness like cancer etc. One that I consider as a genius app is TrusteDoctor. A great example of indentyfying a major problem by passionate visionares who managed to turn an idea into an incredible product.”
Are you currently (still) looking for investments or funds to finalise or optimize your App?
FS: “Yes, we are in the process of raising our 2nd financing round to help us execute the plan of establishing new revenue streams and further develop the ones we have already tapped into. This will obviously come from constant acceleration of growth – both on the user and venue side. In 2019 we want to be ready for expansion with several clear and working revenue streams.”
Are you familiar with the definition Monetization (how to earn money with your App)? Are you open for ad companies sending advertisements through your App?
FS: “Yes, I am aware of that term. Any business in the world needs to make money. However we are not open for CPI ad companies to push some random banners via Embargo. We always ensure the user only gets relevant information and content. We run our own marketing campaigns through Embargo for beverage brands and other big corporates who are looking to target users or venues in the hospitality industry in a smart way.”
What is the business model of the App (how does the App earns money?) Think of advertisements, premium subscriptions in the App etc?
FS: “As mentioned above, we have been working with several major beverage brands but not only. Moreover, the freshly launched Portal by Embargo, which is a sophisticated dashboard for businesses providing them with in depth analytics and marketing tools, will give venues a wide range of paid campaigns and features which they can opt in. The last but not least, we will have some paid freemium options for users which they can also optionally opt in to get even more perks from Embargo.”
Last but not least is there anything you want to recommend other App Founders/Creators?
FS: “I believe you first need to achieve a huge success to become a valid adviser, however, what I found from my own experience is that no matter how much you imporove your concept or product, there is always room to make it even better. Never stop the process of creating, gathering feedback then analysing it and then improving. The moment you stop, you let others overtake you. I like to use an analogy to Olympic runners competing in the 1,5km or 3km run. Usually on the last 50-100m you have the top 2 runners go head in head and one suddenly takes over. It is never the case of one runner accelerating out of the blue, it is always that the other cannot keep up the pace anymore. I believe the same happens in business, especially in the start-up world. You need to always be happy, enjoy the ride but never be satisfied.”