The journey from idea to pre-launch

The humble beginnings of Pecoz from the initial idea for a coffee ordering app up to the point of getting ready to launch.

The first idea for a coffee ordering app​

The first idea for a mobile app came while waiting in a long queue to order and pay for a coffee. The bottleneck seemed to be the person taking the orders. What if we could streamline the coffee ordering process for regular customers picking up their favourite hot drink, so they don't have to wait in line every time to place their order?

As we brainstormed the details of the solution, we recognised that ​there was a greater business need and opportunity for coffee shops than just simply streamlining the order process for their regular customers.

Our initial market research also revealed several existing apps that ​offered solutions for ordering coffee, some gaining traction already and others just getting started.

Businesses need more than just faster orders​

​Both Jeff and Charles, the co-founders of Pecoz, run businesses of their own and understand how easy it is to neglect their marketing while focusing on the day to day operations, especially for small business owners. For most, their greatest marketing challenge is keeping their best customers happy and coming back, and finding more ideal customers.

Most local businesses don't have any way of keeping track of their customers, how often they shop with them, or if they ever come back again, how much they spend over their lifetime, or what is common about their best customers and how to reach others like them. Without any of this information, their marketing effort and spending is hit and miss, based on gut feel and trial and error, rather than laser focused targeting based on facts.

Over the following weeks, as Jeff and Charles continued to refine their mobile app idea, the coffee ordering app evolved to include a customer loyalty program using a digital and mobile version of the common coffee card. While this new feature would have delivered a lot more value to coffee shops in terms of tracking and analysing customer behaviour, it was still limited to just modernising another existing process. Plus, we found there are other apps that can do that too already.

Next they considered adding payment processing, which would have made the whole experience even smoother for both customers and businesses, but that opened up a whole new set of technical and financial challenges.

The pivot from coffee ordering to a points economy

The breakthrough idea came​ while trying to work out the financial model and looking to solve the challenge of high bank fees, which were a big cost on a lot of small transactions without adding much value to the participating businesses or to Pecoz.

But wait! It wasn't even called Pecoz yet. Back then we were using the name OrderPronto.

The idea was that if we didn't have to move money around in small transactions, we could save a lot for everyone involved. That's when we decided to replace real money with a points based digital currency that did not incur the regular credit card fees on every little transaction​, and convert the points to real money when the business wants to withdraw the funds to their bank account. This is how the points economy was born.

The name Pecoz was derived from the term [P]oints [ECO]nomy, with a [Z] added to the end to make it more unique. We pronounce it like the word 'echo', as p-echo-z, but don't mind other variations.

Working our way through four technology solutions 

​Now that we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to build, we hired developers and started building the first prototype. However, as one should expect from a software development project involving new technology and a new team, this is not a straight forward task.

We tried working with a few different developers and tried a few different technology stacks, looking for the best fit.​ We were looking for a solution that is quick to adapt as we keep improving it over time. We needed something that not only looked good, but was also very secure and fast. It had to be able to scale easily to support a fast growing user base into the thousands, hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions of users in Australia first, followed by other countries later.

​After starting from scratch a few times using different tools and different technologies, we finally found the application platform that ticked all our requirements. We started the whole project over again for the 4th time, in the second half of 2015, and we haven't looked back since.

Maturing the idea and bringing it all together​

As our new working prototype​ started to take shape and we gained more and more confidence in our technology platform, we were able to balance the development work with maturing the key components of the business offering.

These are some of the main features that make Pecoz unique:

  • Pecoz rewards customers for their private and helpful feedback. Without Pecoz, it's impossible for businesses to collect truly honest feedback from their customers. Pecoz gives customers an incentive to tell business owners and managers freely what they really think the business could do better, without anyone knowing who they are. Their anonymous feedback is then peer reviewed to make sure it's helpful, before making it available to the business. Other than the obvious benefit of giving businesses access to this unique type of private and constructive feedback, this feature also measures each business's overall customer recommendation score, how it changes over time and, most importantly, why.
  • Pecoz rewards customers for recommending their favourite businesses. Customers who recommend a business to their friends and social network through Pecoz, will be rewarded every time a new customer they referred spends their Pecoz points at that business, for life! It may only be a few cents each time, depending on the total value of each transaction, but it could add up to a substantial amount over the long run.
  • Pecoz rewards customers for their loyalty to their local businesses. Unlike other loyalty reward systems, Pecoz keeps a tally of each member's lifetime spend at each participating business, without the need for each business to know the identity of each customer. Not only does this respect each member's privacy and streamlines the check out process, but it also creates some unique opportunities for businesses to cross-promote their offers with other businesses that share a similar customer demographic. All this without sharing customer information between businesses. Pecoz can identify and facilitate these joint ventures while protecting its members' privacy.
  • Pecoz rewards members for introducing new members to Pecoz. By spreading the word about Pecoz, everybody benefits. The referring members get an instant referral bonus plus lifetime rewards every time the new member they introduced spends their Pecoz points at any participating business. The new members get all the benefits of being part of the Pecoz network. Participating businesses get to promote their exclusive offers to more members. Pecoz gets to distribute more revenue to members, partners, and worthy causes. That's right, another unique feature of Pecoz...
  • Pecoz shares 100% of all revenues! Pecoz is pioneering a new business model we like to call the "contribution economy". Essentially this is similar to a revenue sharing crowdfunding model. OK, simply put, all costs are covered by our contribution partners each month, while all revenues are distributed as follows: 20% to members referring other members to Pecoz, 20% to customers referring new customers to businesses, 10% to worthy causes, and the remaining 50% to our contribution partners.

​Getting ready to launch...

At the time of writing we are getting close to releasing the first version of the app for iPhone and Android phones.

During our pre-launch phase, members will be able to earn points by leaving feedback at their local businesses, by reviewing feedback left anonymously by others, and by introducing other members to Pecoz. Businesses will be able to tap into their customers' feedback and see how implementing their suggestions improves their recommendation score.

For our full launch, we'll be rolling out the Pecoz Loyalty Rewards Program to local businesses that received the best recommendation scores from their customers. This will give members more ways to earn points and to spend their Pecoz points at participating businesses. Those businesses will then gain insights into their customers' spending habits that they've never had before, and they'll be able to set up their automated marketing system to increase sales from each existing customer and to attract more new customers.

We hope you'll want to be part of our journey and share in our success. If you want to know more or are ready to get started with Pecoz, please visit our website.​

About the Author

Charles Papp is a Co-Founder & CTO of Pecoz. Charles runs an IT consultancy business, and contributes his solution architecture expertise to drive the Pecoz technology strategy.

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