Giving back to the community you come from is something that PADT strongly believes in. We extend this belief not just to charities, but also to the technology business community that helped to create the company we are today. One way in which we do that is through strategic Angel investments in local technology startup companies.
Veebow.com is not a typical technology investment for PADT. The company “was founded by Tom Vitale and Edward Loew to connect buyers with savvy companies through local, regional and national special deals using a free application on smart phones and mobile devices.” Why does PADT have an interest in a mobile phone coupon application? We will get to that below, but first a little bit about the company.
Based in the Phoenix area, with offices in Los Angeles, Veebow.com is a startup that was born out of a missing capability in the market place. No one provides a method for consumers and merchants to easily and affordably use coupons on a smart phone. There are plenty of discount applications out there, but non of them are free AND mobile oriented. They usually cost money for the consumer, or are web based systems moved to mobile. Veebow is mobile from the ground up, and costs the consumer nothing. In fact, you actually make some money when you use a coupon through the application, because users earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards.
The merchant side is also different. Instead of having to pay for deals to get published, or instead of using the deal company as a middleman to pre-sell things, Veebow only charges the merchant when a coupon is used. The merchant only pays when they get a customer. That is very attractive to merchants that are unhappy with most of the deal sites out there.
One other thing that makes Veebow different is where the idea for the company came from. Tom Vitale, one of the founders, is married to the actress Valarie Bertinelli. A life long coupon clipper, she was complaining about what a pain it is to use coupons, and that all of the online and mobile options are difficult to use or cost money. From that complaint came the idea and the name for Veebow – Tom’s nickname for his wife. Her involvement is a significant marketing advantage for the company.
The technology on for this startup is not bleeding edge. The mobile apps are written in native IOS and Android and use standard location services and communication to work. There is a backend tool that sits in the cloud which houses the database and does all of the heavy lifting as far as finding what the user is looking for. Nothing too special, but a lot of work to implement and something that needs to be done right. So the technology focus is really on executing correctly
Because of this, the real technology challenge for this product was taking the desired user experience and making it a reality. It is one thing to sit in a room and talk about how an application should work, and another to make it happen in the real world. Veebow just released their first major revision of the user application and you can tell they have really thought things out and put a lot of effort into making the experience special. As the product matures and they modify and improve the user experience, look for more sophistication and ease of use in the application.
We are interested in this company for three reasons. And no, one of them was not meeting Valarie Bertinelli. (although, that was pretty cool, and she is as nice and funny in person as you imagined. We did get a picture with yours truly during an event in Phoenix). As PADT grows our services and works with a wider range of companies, we have to continually learn more about other spaces and other processes used to get products to market and sold. Sometimes we make investments in companies because their products or services are directly related to what we do, and sometimes it is because they offer us the opportunity to learn about areas we want to understand better. The latter is why we invested in Veebow.
The first area of interest for us is the mobile application aspect. As products get smarter they are going to be moving towards monitoring and control through mobile applications. This is already showing itself to be true in medical devices, and we are seeing it with more customers in other industries every day. Our involvement with Veebow has already taught us a lot about mobile app development, connections to cloud based backend database applications, and user experience issues.
A unique challenge that Veebow faces is that they need to market to consumers and vendors at the same time. PADT has no direct experience with marketing to retail merchants or consumers, but many of our customers deal with this on a daily basis. We feel that by being involved with Veebow we will get an up close look at this very important dynamic, and give us insight that we can use when working with our customers.
The most important reason for our investment in Veebow is that we think it is a great idea, with a good team, and a workable plan. In short, we think it is a good investment that will make a nice return on our investment while growing jobs and the technology ecosystem in Arizona. This is the type of win-win situation we strive for.
The team at Veebow is very busy with a local test launch in the Phoenix area, closing out this round of funding, and finishing up some very nice tools for their merchants. They are starting to see some traction with consumers, as they get more merchants signed up. This is an effort where they need growth on both sides at the same time to be successful.
They are also adding to their team, making some great hires for key positions that will allow them to grow and be successful. We have already seen a positive impact on the software side and are seeing some very serious momentum on the customer acquisition side of things. Local restaurant company Fox Restaurant Concepts is an early participant as is the national hat chain Lids. Many others are in negotiations.
Best of all, the users seem to like it. The droid version has 4.5 stars out of 5 and the iPhone version has 4 out of 4. We feel that is pretty good considering how picky consumers are.
You can help PADT help our local tech startup community by downloading the application for your iPhone or Android device and using it. It works all around the country. What is the worst thing that will happen? You might save some money.
I know, this is bordering on advertising, but at the same time we would really like people to use it and spread the word. Growth of this company will provide PADT with experience and capital that we can use to provide you with better products and services.. Also, when this is the next big thing, you can tell your friends that you know someone who invested in the idea early.