Inspiration to action

Inspiration to action

Poynt CEO, Andrew Osis

Poynt CEO, Andrew Osis

Poynt Corporation operates in the mobile local advertising space. Its location based search (LBS) and advertising platform, Poynt, enhances a user’s ability to connect with the people, businesses and events most important to them. Here, we talk to Poynt CEO, Andrew Osis, on the evolution of an idea.

From a basement in Calgary, Canada back in 2002, to nearly 13 million daily users globally today, things are progressing in leaps and bounds for LBS and ad platform, Poynt.

In these days of smartphone and tablet euphoria, where no one carries a map book and end users expect adverts to be targeted to their interests, Poynt is a good example of a company that saw something coming way before others did, hung on in there while the founders lived on baked beans, then when the technology and market caught up with the ideas, were able to expand and grow rapidly, riding the wave of success and demand.

“We began with the idea of trying to get local search information onto a phone, but there was no concept of a smartphone 10 years ago when we started

out,” says Osis. “Some of the smartest phones out there at the time were Nokia’s, but they were fairly limited. The vision in 2002 was that GPS chips would get small enough to into a phone. That sounded crazy! And you’d also need a solid connection to the internet; at the time, no phone could do that.”

 

Waiting game

In between waiting for technology to catch up with the concept, Poynt opted for instant messaging (IM) as the vehicle to make its idea work. Osis explains: “We were using IM because it was already loaded onto a lot of phones. We built a beautiful system that used natural language chat on IM, but people couldn’t get their heads around using IM in a different way, not for chat but for search. But by 2006 handsets had developed significantly, and so had what we had developed.”

Between 2002 and 2006, Poynt’s team were supported by angel investors, friends and family. The company went public on the TSX Venture Exchange, Canada’s junior listings market owned by TMX Group, which also owns the Toronto Stock Exchange, in 2007. “Up until then, we scraped along,” remembers Osis.

Things really began to move in 2008 with a deal with BlackBerry, Osis explains: “By June 2008 we had lots of relationships and agreements in place, and launched Poynt for BlackBerry. We emailed the app to about 100 people as there was no other way to tell people about it, but BlackBerry’s had email. We asked people to try it out and to let us know if they liked or didn’t like it, and to share it with friends. On the first day we had 10 extra users. Now, we attract around 30,000 new users every day, with a total of around 12.9 million users a day in nine countries.”

He continues: “When we went into the app space with BlackBerry, we knew we were onto a winner when we suddenly started to grow. In 2007 we also won BlackBerry’s developer contest against hundreds of others, and went from 7,000 users in October when we won, to 50,000 users by the end of December the same year, off the back of the notoriety the win gave us.

 

Inspiration to action

The future is about continuing to push the Poynt mantra of ‘inspiration to action’, says Osis. “If I want to see a movie, I want to look at my phone, find a cinema, see a review, pick a film, buy tickets and walk in. It’s about the complete circle, inspiration to transaction,” he states.

“We are moving more towards the direction of a convergence of social apps and search, with more user-generated context, while social networking is adding the search element. But the big thing is the ewallet and near field communication (NFC) chips. Your phone is no longer just about your connection to the world, but it is also your ability to pay, and that fits neatly into the inspiration to transaction idea, from ‘I need’ to ‘I have’,” Osis observes.

“It’s early days for e-wallets and NFC,” continues Osis, “But we’re talking to Samsung, RIM, Nokia and others on where we fit with all that. There are a lot of different opinions on how it will all work. We’re also working with a major credit card provider on the area of voucher and discount deals, through to some payment methodology using NFC, but that is probably a year if not more away.”

For businesses, all this technology brings together the entire circle of commerce, concludes Osis. “You can make the consumer aware of your product and have a direct dialogue with them, through to transactions with mobile devices and apps like Poynt, advertising directly with customers who need your message. It’s really that full circle.”

 

What is it?

Poynt is a timesaving GPS-enabled mobile local search and advertising platform that connects consumers to local offers, businesses, events, restaurants, movie theatres, gas prices and weather information, at the moment they are looking to buy or acquire products or services.

Available on Android, iPhone, Windows Phone and Nokia devices, along with BlackBerry smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook Tablets in Canada, the US, Europe, India and Australia, the platform provides consumers with the ability to move beyond discovery of their local area to view movie trailers and reviews, buy movie tickets, click-to-call businesses, get directions, browse listing websites, read reviews and book dining reservations or find and interact with local coupons and offers.

It also provides contextual and relevant advertising to users performing local queries and its revenue model is based on user queries, page views, advertising and transactions within the platform. Each user query generates several page views, which are monetised through display advertising and sponsored listings paid for by advertisers. These advertising placements generate revenues on a cost per thousand impressions (CPM) basis or on a cost per click (CPC) basis. Transactions, such as ticket sales and restaurant reservations, also contribute to revenues on a fee for service basis.

In January this year, Poynt launched its Petrol search feature in the UK in partnership with Whatgas.com, to allow users to find the closest or cheapest petrol stations in their local area. Additionally, Poynt users will be able to quickly update current petrol prices where prices have fluctuated.