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2015-02-02

Digital wallet startup SmartPocket gets angel funding from Sol Primero, other investors

SmartPocket automatically figures out the loyalty memberships a user holds using her phone number.

SmartPocket, a mobile tech startup that connects brick-n-mortar businesses to their loyal customers, has raised between Rs 1-1.5 crore in a seed round funding by early stage investment firm Sol Primero and Rajiv Mehta, an angel investor and CEO with Arvind Group.

SmartPocket, which started out as a digital pocket of loyalty cards, automatically figures out the loyalty memberships a user holds using her phone number. These cards are stacked on SmartPocket app updated with points and personalised offers.

Started by Goldman Sachs alum Kiran Shastri and Mayank Shah in April-2014, SmartPocket has managed to attract retail brands like PUMA, PEOPLE and Peter England as their partner brands. The company is incubated at NASSCOM 10,000 Start-up programme, and recently won the best design award at NASSCOM Product Conclave 2014. It has also been picked by Google for its first ever Indian Launchpad programme.

Shastri, CEO, SmartPocket, said “Personal communication has rapidly moved from snail mail to emails to text messages to exchanging photos and videos on FB/WhatsApp. But customer communication by brick-n-mortar businesses has not kept pace. Sure, there are generic FB pages, mass emails and annoying text messages. But is it the same? How personalised are they? Companies use loyalty programs to engage with customers, but how many carry cards or know the value it brings to them. Traditional players also need to take a cue from modern e-commerce players who engage with customers at opportune time using mobile push notificationsand social media. SmartPocket is a marketplace for repeat business that brings in all such tools, but positions the brand right in front of the users.”

Shah, COO, SmartPocket, said “Over the last year we have come to realise loyalty is about brands being loyal to customers and not the other way around. To make it easier for businesses to connect to modern customer, we are in the midst of repositioning SmartPocket as an app, which consumers use as a circle of their brands and businesses.The users can avail special privileges and services that they deserve for being a customer. It will track users’ memberships, allow them to make inquiries, book appointments, make purchases with businesses they care about. It will be like having a concierge desk for each user.”

The founders are being mentored by retail industry stalwarts Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India (RAI) and Rajiv Mehta, who started PUMA’s business in India from scratch. Mehta said, “The founders come with deep technology background. When they came to me with their idea, I could immediately connect with its novelty and market potential. Their quick product iterations, energy and zeal convinced me and I was in.”

Ravi Gururaj, Chairman, Nasscom Product Council and Chief Mentor, Start-up Warehouse, said, "Kiran and Mayank at SmartPocket have developed a holistic digital wallet experience that aligns brilliantly with what modern consumers desire and demand. Their innovative solution distinguishes itself by seamlessly bridging legacy with the latest digital technologies to integrate all brand interactions, loyalty cards & points, transaction and payments histories, memberships and identity. SmartPocket's ability to deliver a comprehensive set of merchant integrations within a delightfully simple mobile user experience makes it a winning combination."

The funds raised are going to be used to product engineer the new avatar of the platform and to acquire users and partner businesses.The goal will be to reach user base of more than half a million by year end and achieve a 100 per cent increase rate in merchant tie ups month-on-month.

As part of this raise Presha Paragash of Sol Primero, who has earlier invested in Zostel and Ridingo, joins board of SmartPocket. She said, “The loyalty industry in India is mired by the painful usage of plastic cards and tracking of points. We believe that the SmartPocket product has the ability to drive out inefficiencies of carrying multiple loyalty cards in one's wallet.  As the customer engagement in India moves beyond plastic and points, we believe that the team has the experience and understanding required to build a product that will be the winner in this space.” Sol Primero is an early stage investment company which has been set up by two recent Wharton MBA graduates, Presha Paragash and Shweta Singh.

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