The evolution of discount vouchers

The Digital Brew : Episode 7. We chat to Ben Corrigan, of Dragons Den fame, about the past, the present and the future of discount codes online.

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After a very brief summer recess, The Digital Brew is back!

In episode seven, I met up with Ben Corrigan from Pouch to chat about discount vouchers. We carried out some research into vouchers codes back in 2014, so it is an area in which I have a keen interest.

If you watch The Dragons Den, you may have seen Ben and co-founder Jonny Plein achieve what very few people do as they had the dragons fighting to invest in their business.

Pouch is a browser extension that takes the pain out of finding discount vouchers for online purchases. The benefits for the consumer are obvious, but I enjoyed watching Ben and Jonny discuss the advantages for the retailers and could think of nobody better with whom to discuss the intriguing world of discount vouchers over a brew (actually, we went for the healthy option of water).

See what Ben has to say about the evolution of discount vouchers and chat about his experiences in the den:

The Evolution of Voucher Codes

View video transcript

Joe: Hello, and a very warm welcome to another episode of The Digital Brew. I’m here today with Ben Corrigan, from Pouch, and we’re gonna be talking about the evolution of voucher codes online.

Ben Corrigan: Exactly.

Joe: Pleasure. Ben, yes, thanks for your time. I first came across you via Dragon’s Den and that’s certainly something I’d like to come back and discuss later on, perhaps. But can you just give us a quick introduction to yourself?

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, sure. So Ben Corrigan. Like you said, I’m a founder of Pouch. Pouch is a free online shopping tool that presents our users with the best valid voucher codes as they shop on over 3000 UK websites.

So, basically, we’ve all been there before at the checkout page, about to enter our card details, and see that section that says, “Do you have a voucher code?” And then we would all end up leaving, and searching for a code, and going on all these homogenous voucher code sites.

And the codes are always invalid, or they’re expired, and they never seem to work. So, with us you just, we sit in your browser, when you’re on a website that we have voucher codes for, we just give them to you. So you never have to visit an annoying voucher code site again.

Joe: Perfect, sounds good. Yes, and we’ll pull you to Pouch, specifically, a little bit later on. I think a natural starting place when I was thinking about what we could chat about is the, hence the name, the evolution of voucher codes. That’s actually kind of where, and it feels as though it’s a very recent phenomenon, but you and I have both done the same research.

Ben Corrigan: The same article yeah!

Joe: Yes, and came up with 1887, Coca-Cola actually did the first sort of recognised coupons. Coupons have naturally migrated online I guess, and again, there’s an interesting thing there, it’s incentivising consumers to use a product. In that particular instance, it’s really interesting because that actually incentivised the pharmacists to give them a load of data. So kind of data privacy breaches of the 1800s.

Ben Corrigan: 1877 was it? 1887?

Joe: 1887. And then there was a bit of a lull. I think the next one was 1999 with some…

Ben Corrigan: Cereal boxes.

Joe: Yes, exactly.

Ben Corrigan: And then the Great Depression.

Joe: But I think, I suppose, I’ve been involved in the online world for a while, and I’ve actually gotten into SEO, as a lot of SEO people did, by dilly-dallying around, doing affiliate work. So, I’ve done my own bit of affiliate marketing over time. And I think affiliate marketing was a pretty key driver of a lot of voucher code usage. And affiliate marketing, for me, feels like it’s sort of died off a bit. But voucher code usage just isn’t going anywhere, and I remember when Mark Pearson sold MyVoucherCodes for 60 million or whatever it was, and that, it just really reinforced how big it is.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, I mean, even after that acquisition, RetailMeNot, which is a U.S. voucher code conglomerate was acquired for 600-and-something million dollars, Ebates, which is a kinda cashback voucher code proposition, was bought by Rakuten for over a billion dollars, it’s a huge amount of money. And yeah, whilst affiliate marketing is seeing a lull in some areas, voucher codes and cashback are basically the key driver for that entire industry. So yeah, it’s not going away anywhere quick.

Joe: No, it’s not. And I think that’s probably the crux or the interesting angle is, I guess, it’s the question around, “does it cheapen a brand?” There are negative consequences, I think, of doing voucher codes. And I think it’s actually symptomatic of online retail full-stop, kind of the Black Friday, Cyber Mondays, all that kind of stuff. I can’t help but feel, sometimes, it’s a race to the bottom, and profitability is taking a big whack.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, I mean, the thing is, this totally depends on the industry and it totally depends on the retailer. There’s some retailers that would never dream of discounting, Prada, for instance, wouldn’t do it. You’ll never a voucher code on Apple or some high-end brands, some companies, are synonymous with voucher codes. You would be foolish to go to Pizza Express without a voucher code, because it’s literally all they do, is use discounts. Is it a race to the bottom? I don’t necessarily think that’s a question that’s just related to voucher codes, I think it’s related to discounting generally, price cutting.

But I think what we’re seeing with voucher codes, is actually it’s a mechanism for being able to satisfy retailers’ for a specific objective. So it’s not just, “get 10% off,” it can be “get 10% off if you spend over ten pounds, or a 100 pounds” and now you’re actually increasing average order values. Or you can discount for a new customer, so this is about new customer retention. And so if you know your own lifetime value of a customer, you can fold that discount into your margins, it can actually make a lot of sense.

And also, voucher codes can be used to off-load inventory, let’s say Lenovo have got a warehouse filled with loads of last generation tablets…

Joe: Get rid of them.

Ben Corrigan: Just get rid of them. So yeah, it isn’t just necessarily a catch all race to the bottom, it can be used cleverly, targeting specific individuals and specific circumstance to satisfy particular KPIs.

Joe: Yes, it’s a very good point. And it’s a bit crude to lump all discounting into one bucket, and I think as you said, you can prioritise, you can mould your sort of  retail performance through incentives, the consumer wins, and also the retailer wins. So, and that’s a positive story, I think that’s fine until you get the frenzy. I mean, we’re about to go into silly season particularly e-commerce. I mean, have there been any standout examples you’ve personally seen over the years, that you’ve just thought, “Crazy, kind of nutters.” Or is it just more-

Ben Corrigan: What, in terms of just the level of discounts?

Joe: Yeah.

Ben Corrigan: It’s crazy, what I’m actually going to be very interested in, is Singles’ Day. So, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Singles’ Day, but it’s the biggest e-commerce day in China. It’s basically Valentine’s Day for single people, and that is now transitioning to Europe. And so, it’s expected to be very big, and it’s just another example of how retailers will love an excuse. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Wednesday…

Joe: I know, there’s something every day basically.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, and the amount of… it does become very competitive, and very cutthroat with the retailers. So, one of the things that we do, is actually allow retailers to target customers, while their shopping on a competitor’s site, which has never been done before. So I say, imagine if you’re in John Lewis, looking at a bottle of aftershave, and then a Debenhams sales assistant comes up to you and says, “Hey, by the way, that aftershave is ten pounds cheaper,” and John Lewis can’t remove that person from their premises, right, because we sit in the browser.

Joe: Yes, you’re divorced from the actual website.

Ben Corrigan: Exactly, so there’s no integration. And so, because we presented retailers with this tool, and we’re delivering a mechanism for allowing them to target their ideal customers, some of the discounts are crazy that they’re willing to offer. Because now they have an opportunity to steal market share and so in some cases, you’ll see some retailers probably have to make a loss for that.

Joe: Yeah, well, I think the loss-leading phenomenon has always been there, supermarkets particularly, they’ll radically discount certain product lines, probably through bullying their suppliers a little bit to get advantageous sort of pricing themselves. But they are losing money on that particular product, in the aspiration of getting more people to their door. And I think you’re right, you are seeing more of that blatant kind of cannibalising your competitors’ sales. And I think, yeah, it’s an interesting model, and it certainly is very aggressive.

Again, I suppose, we’ve had that, we’re, as an agency, Browser Media is primarily search. And you know we’ve often had that dilemma about sort of cannibalising brand searches on your competitors, do you steam in there? And I think the obvious answer is, yes, because – let’s take that buying that bottle of perfume – if someone’s looking for a bottle of perfume at John Lewis, if you are Debenhams  then great, let’s just get in front of there. The challenge is, to really stand out, you have to be really aggressive, you basically have to say that, “we’ll do it cheaper” or better or whatever it is.

And the reality is, a lot of brand searches are looking for, in the retail world, they’re probably looking for store opening hours or contact details, they’re not actually, they don’t want to be invaded at that point. And I think, consumers can get a bit peeved, you know, “just butt out, I’m quite enjoying my John Lewis experience, and I’m here to do this thing, and I’m happy with it. Don’t make me make decisions.”

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, exactly, there’s being a useful tool, and being an annoying company.

Joe: It’s interruptive.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah. It’s literally what you said about the brand bidding stuff, the keywords. So now what we’re seeing, in fact, in the voucher code industry, is… so, just to reiterate, for anyone listening that doesn’t know what brand bidding is, it’s when I will bid on my competitors key terms. So if I’m ASOS, and you’re Debenhams and someone types in Debenhams an ASOS ad will appear. As a kind of status quo, that brand bidding just isn’t done, because then it is a race to the bottom. So people just don’t do it… until Christmas, and then they do it!

Then what you’re seeing in voucher codes is, part of the terms and conditions for the affiliate programmes is no brand bidding. So if I’m, and someone types in ‘ASOS voucher codes’

Joe: Yep, you can’t bid them out.

Ben Corrigan: Someone types in ‘ASOS voucher code’, I can’t come up, except when you have an exclusivity agreement where you can actually grant only one voucher code site the right to bid on their own brand, which in my opinion is anti-competitive.

Joe: Yes, well yeah, there’s a lot of … even this week, there’s been the whole, CompareTheMarket. They’ve been looking to… I think it’s home insurance, particular case, they highlighted, they had people advertising their site, and part of the deal was, “your best price has to be on our site.” And I agree with you, that’s not really the spirit of open competition. But it’s commercial, and these things happen. And I think all discounting, full-stop, voucher codes is an easy way of doing that, and facilitating that with sound business models and sort of theory behind it. It’s not always bad, as you were saying, the loss leading has always happened.

Ben Corrigan: I think people in the marketing industry don’t like voucher codes because they see it as too simplistic and too easy. They want to have all these really sophisticated strategies, particularly in affiliate marketing, and people that really want to drive content. Content doesn’t drive sales, it just doesn’t. In theory, it should. And you would like it to, and you think, brilliant content, a fantastic article that led this person to buy the dress. What led that person to buy the dress is a discount.

And that’s why affiliate marketing is dominated by cashback and voucher codes, and so, you will have these marketing managers at major retailers saying, “We’re moving away from discounting, the best price is the only price,” and it just goes all out the window when it comes to Christmas. And the reason it goes out the window is because they know that that’s what drives the results. They know the people know that there’s discounts out there, it almost one of these things that once the cat’s out of the bag, it can’t put it back in again.

Joe: No, I agree. It’s a Pandora’s Box.

Ben Corrigan: Exactly, and if you have the voucher codes functionality on the site, you have tools like Pouch, which will capitalise on that. And so, yeah, I think there’s a little bit of a disingenuity about discounting.

Joe: Yeah, I’d agree. It’s hard to accept it. I was talking to my wife the other day, and she says, “Gap, nobody shops in Gap anymore.” And you mentioned Pizza Express, you just wait until it’s discounted, or you go into the store, you find the product you like, you go searching for a kind of voucher code. I suppose, my immediate reaction is, that’s madness. They would’ve bought that, if the mindset is, “that’s the price it is.” And I think this is where Apple’s very good and very strong, they charge exorbitant prices, miles above where they should be, but you think, “well, I might as well do, I want it, and it’s not gonna get any cheaper.”And I think that’s quite strong, and I think that’s the benefit of having a very, very strong brand. And that, funny enough actually, with my content marketing head on that – and I do agree with you about content doesn’t necessarily draw revenue – it certainly won’t in the very short term.

Ben Corrigan: That’s what… yeah, so let me reiterate that, because I don’t want that to be a soundbite! [Laughs] Content, of course, drives sales and drives revenue. And I’m saying, when it comes to…

Joe: It’s a long term, it’s an investment.

Ben Corrigan: Exactly, exactly!

Joe: To be able to brand, that’s fundamentally what it is.

Ben Corrigan: On the point of conversion, so affiliate marketing is performance marketing, so the affiliate marketing managers would love it to be that. But the last click wins, and the last click is the voucher code, it just is.

Joe: Yeah, exactly, it’s kind of search or voucher, and search might’ve gone to a different affiliate who then drove them on.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, exactly. And you do attribution funnels, and that’s always been a hot topic in affiliate marketing, is attribution. You want to encourage the good content, and you don’t want to over-rely on voucher codes.

Joe: Yes, I mean, it’s … what’s his name… Nick Robertson, ASOS CEO, who said that affiliate marketers, are ‘grubby little people in grubby little studios.’ [Both laugh] And you think, okay, that wasn’t too clever! That was just prior to relaunching their affiliate campaign. So what drove you to setting up Pouch? Was there any kind of individual catalyst, or was it just a-

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, so my background is actually in onsite optimisation, so I worked at a company called Yieldify.

Joe: In terms of optimisation,  for search or performance?

Ben Corrigan: Optimisation for performance on the website.

Joe: So CRO, kind of, or conversion?

Ben Corrigan: Conversion rate optimisation, yeah. So I was a very young employee in a company called Yieldify, which actually then grew to be one of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe. In fact, they got 11 and a half million dollars from Google benches, it was a really interesting story. And what it was, is a piece of JavaScript which will be implemented on a client’s website, like Marks and Spencer or Domino’s or something. And then it can monitor users’ mouse movements, their speed and their behaviour, and determine when they’re about to leave a website, based on the trajectory of those mouse movements towards certain exit points.

And at that point, they would then display an overlay message, saying, “continue to buy, get 10% off” or “spend 15 pounds” or “give us your email” or whatever, and then the actual content on the copy of that overlay would change depending on where you come from, how many you visited the site, what was in the basket, the value of the basket, geo-location, device… all the usual suspects. And it was operated back then on a performance model, so, go to leave the site, trigger an overlay, click on the overlay, buy something, I get paid a commission.

So, super scalable business, which is why it grew so fast. I mean, by the time I left after two and a half years or whatever, it was about 155 people, and I joined at five people. And so that was what inspired me to create Pouch, because I was a sales guy. And I was having to try to convince retailers to implement JavaScript, which is not an easy task, even though technically it only takes five minutes.

Joe: It should be, and never is easy.

Ben Corrigan: I know, it never is. And one of the most common objections, which is kind of what you’ve raised a little bit in this conversation is, why should I pay Yieldify a commission for converting a user that I’ve already paid to come to my site after having given them a discount, right, so it’s a hard sell?! In the end, ultimately, it wasn’t too difficult, because it worked, it did in some cases dramatically decrease shopping cart abandonment, which stands at an industry average of 75%.

Joe: Is it as high as that?

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, it is exactly 75%, it’s industry average.

Joe: And is the discount voucher empty box the biggest trigger?

Ben Corrigan: I would say so.

Joe: Yes, exactly. Did you see when you when you were at Yieldify, did you see that was one of the centre-most important triggers?

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, because, why do people abandon a site? There’s lots of reasons. They abandon a site because they had no interest in purchasing anyway, or they have unexpected delivery costs, privacy or security concerns. Primarily it’s to search for a voucher code, indicated by the fact that when people go to leave, they see the overlay and they stay. Also an indicator in our own data now, that we also see that, we see that people convert much higher. The shopping cart abandonment rates are lower on the sites that we work on with our users.

And so, I thought if we created a browser extension, we wouldn’t have to implement JavaScript, so Pouch is integrated on every single website in the world, meaning that we don’t need to ask permission to be on the websites. And then we can actually work collaboratively with thousands of retailers, and become a B2C proposition, whereas Yieldify’s a B2B proposition. So that was the catalyst.

Joe: Yeah, that makes sense.

Ben Corrigan: And also, just as a user. We’re in 2017, you’ve got these retailers spending millions of pounds driving users to their websites, millions of more pounds optimising those websites for conversions. And the users that they want, the people with items in the basket are leaving to go on this journey.

Joe: Journey to try and find vouchers.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, where there’s a chance that they’ll confront your competitor with a different price, they won’t come back, and only 33% of users that leave to search for a voucher come back.

Joe: I’m guilty of it, as I’m sure everyone is. You try two or three, and the voucher’s no longer valid, you just give up or the phone goes or an email, something distracts you. So I kind of think this embedding in the browser is the clever bit because of the web development I’ve been involved with over the years. We’re usually interesting in getting some tracking code or some code on sites. It’s a nightmare.

Ben Corrigan: It’s a nightmare, it is a nightmare.

Joe: You can remove that reliance. That’s why things like Tag Management’s always been great for us, because you say, “look, give us Tag Management” or “we can put the right kind of script and code in there,” but it’s still relatively not used, not used very well.

Ben Corrigan: I mean, it just depends on what the kind of bottlenecks on the tech side of these companies are. I remember trying to get JavaScript on Tesco, and it took nearly two years, because even though it’s a five minute task, it goes down list. And then there’s a lot of approvals, so we know we’re live on Tesco, overnight. So yeah.

Joe: What, have you had any sort of particular challenges in sort of… because is it two years old now, the business?

Ben Corrigan: No, one year. So we actually launched to the public September 2016, so it’s only been one year. So this is our first proper Christmas coming up.

Joe: Okay. And any kind of insights in terms of particular challenges that your…

Ben Corrigan: Number one insight – I’ll show you after – Amazon is just a beast, it is so huge. It represents 41% of all internet activity on Pouch.

Joe: That’s mental.

Ben Corrigan: Right, because we monitor every e-commerce website in the UK, 38…41%. Somewhere between 38 and 41%, like that which is mental. And the challenge there is that we can’t work with Amazon, because they have their own browser extension, Jeff Bezos said in person, he said that he doesn’t want to work with browser extensions. And so, there’s a lot of money on the table there, but we also have an opportunity to display great offers to users on Amazon, and bring them into our retailers as well. So it’s good fertile ground for targeting, but again, finding that balance between annoying pop-up company and useful shopping tool is difficult.

Joe: It is hard, yeah.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, so, other challenges are also just browser extensions, toolbar plugins have had historically, a very bad reputation, particularly in this market. And largely because they’re so powerful, and people use that power badly, they drop cookies, they steal data, they sell data, all this kind of stuff.

Joe: Yeah, and the privacy kind of, people mine for that, and they start shutting everything down.

Ben Corrigan: Exactly, and it wasn’t something I was aware of until I created a browser extension company. I was like, “oh, people hate toolbars.” So, our big challenge is really putting a very public face on it, coming out of the shadows, building a really interesting business. And my co-founder, Johnny, hates when I talk about data, because he thinks it scares users. But ultimately, everyone know that there is a payoff there, we use anonymised data to then negotiate brilliant deals for our users.

And so, when we work collaboratively with retailers, we can run some fantastic campaign.

Joe: I imagine, yes, to their benefit, it’s a kind of value proposition. There’s a data exchange, and if there’s value in that data, then other people are going to get it.

Ben Corrigan: … And there’s loads of value in that data, because you see, people talk about, ‘customer journey,’ or they talk about, ‘customer profile building.’ You know,  you have to be in the browser to be that, and we are, so…

Joe: Yes, I know, it’s interesting. You mentioned publicity, and sort of getting the name out there. The Dragon’s Den experience is one of the better ways of doing that.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah.

Joe: In addition, to just talk about that – and I’ve actually known a couple of friends who’ve done it – one actually in Canada and was successful. Like yourself, had effectively the dragon’s fighting over it, which is the dream scenario. It’s a fascinating programme, I think it’s a great format, and it’s good. What was the trigger for you going on the show?

Ben Corrigan: So, my co-founder, Jonny, really wanted to go on Dragon’s Den. I didn’t think it was a viable investment opportunity, I didn’t think it was worthwhile spending time on. I kind of thought like, “oh, it’s… real musicians don’t go on X Factor, real entrepreneurs don’t go on Dragon’s Den, right?”

Joe: Yeah [Laughs]

Ben Corrigan: Which is wrong, which is wrong of me in hindsight. BBC got in touch with us, and we got a little bit of press. Jonny and I were named as two of the twenty young entrepreneurs to watch by and a couple of other magazines. And they were like, “oh, we think you’d be good contestants for the show.” So that kind of made me think, “alright, well, it’s probably worth investing some time or resource into applying.” And then, actually it was a very quick process, we were told it would take months, it took a week. So they were really quick to get us through, which again was very promising.

Joe: Okay, so they came looking for you then?

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, and there was an online application, which was almost immediately approved. There was a telephone interview which within an hour led to an audition. And then, then there was a long wait throughout the due diligence process because they have to make sure that you’re a legitimate business, that you’re not lying, obviously. And then, we got the film date and the rest is that. Yeah, so it was a very interesting experience. And obviously, incredibly valuable for user acquisition, we acquired close to 65,000 users in the week following the show. Not as many as we had forecasted actually, but still, 65,000 users would’ve cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Joe: Well yeah if you look at a hideous advertisement equivalent metric on that, yes, obviously highly valuable.

Ben Corrigan: Exactly.

Joe: Enjoyable experience or… ?

Ben Corrigan: I mean, I hate public speaking, and my biggest fear was becoming a meme, like the sweaty guy from Dragon’s Den!

Joe: [Laughs] Well, actually, the two people I know that have done it, they said, “what you just don’t appreciate is the massive wall of TV crews.” And it’s intimidating, and you think the dragons, well you can take it or leave it you either get intimidated by them or not. But it’s the people you do not see, it’s terrifying.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah.

Joe: It’s a big deal. And you’re in there for a long time.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, so I’ve never had any experience in a studio or anything like that and yeah, the show, they cut your segments in like 15 minutes. But we were in there for two and a half hours of constant questioning. It was a legitimate investment pitch, which I didn’t think it would be. We didn’t really delve into the numbers, obviously there’s no slideshows or anything, so it’s different to a pitch. But it was… I felt sick for the months building up to it.

Joe: I Imagine.

Ben Corrigan: But I was really comfortable within a minute of doing the talk.

Joe: Well both you and Jonny, you knew your stuff.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah.

Joe: You know it’s a sensible idea. You see a lot of not very sensible ideas, crazy evaluations. And I think you need to be investable.

Ben Corrigan: Reasonable.

Joe: You see that thing over and over again, if as an individual you’re uninvestable, it doesn’t matter how good your business is. But you both came across very, very well on that front.

Ben Corrigan: Thank you.

Joe: …And you confidently talk about the numbers, and it was a sort of realistic evaluation.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, I thought… and we knew that, as we were discussing earlier, some people just – it seems they haven’t even watched the show.

Joe: Yeah, exactly. You wonder how they-

Ben Corrigan: Yeah. We knew right, let’s ask for a reasonable amount of money, 75,000 pounds, it is a small amount of money, realistically, considering the amount of money we’ve actually raised since the show. And a reasonable evaluation, and I think at that level, they don’t kinda really even try to… because our revenue figures were not good at all, actually. We had no business… we had no business really, we only had a few thousand users, and so we weren’t making very much money. And even though the evaluation, we felt, was fair, we think going in with lower ask, meant that the questions were more about the vision.

Joe: Exactly that, yeah.

Ben Corrigan: Rather than the gross profit margins.

Joe: And I think that’s what excites them as investors, anyway, you know? They’d rather get in early doors something that could explode, it’s just the nature of the way they do it, it’s portfolio style they’ll invest in 20, and they on;y need one to come really good. They want that acorn that could become the-

Ben Corrigan: Unicorn.

Joe: Unicorn?

Ben Corrigan: An acorn that becomes a unicorn, yeah! [Laughs]

Joe: Via the oak tree!

[Both laugh]

Joe: It’s very interesting. But you have subsequently raised other capital?

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, so we didn’t – actually just before I go onto that – what I should say as well is that, to anyone thinking about going on the show, it was really only in hindsight I thought actually you should take it very seriously because, had it gone badly, you then have to spend months with a knot in your stomach, knowing you’re going to  be humiliated on national television. Which was a real risk that I hadn’t considered properly, we were very relaxed, because we knew we got five offers, so we knew no matter how they spun it, we were gonna come across well. But you really think about it as a – it can break your business, it can make your business, but it can also break your business.

Joe: Yeah, it does put yourself a bit of a head over the parapet in any scenario.

Ben Corrigan: Correct.

Joe: You’re entering the game, and you’ve gone all in. It’s the big, big chips in, and yeah, if it works great, if it doesn’t work, then not so good.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah. But yeah so, we subsequently raised – because we sat down with the Dragons afterwards. We did some due diligence, and some… it just wasn’t worth it for us and…

Joe: Yeah, it’s often the way.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, most of the time the deals do fall through, 80% of the time, according to the Daily Mail. But yeah, we were then able to leverage the experience.

Joe: As being on Dragon’s Den, yeah.

Ben Corrigan: Having been on Dragon’s Den, so we could tell investors that… what had happened on the show. And it was very likely we would be televised, and it was likely that we would get some good downloads. So we were able to raise a three something million evaluation, rather than a 485,000 evaluation.

Joe: So, it worked!

Ben Corrigan: So nearly seven times the evaluation than on the show. And for three times as much money, so now we have enough in the coffers to take us through Christmas, where hopefully…

Joe: It’s a big important time.

Ben Corrigan: … yeah, exactly, and if we have a good Christmas, that means that we can grow faster, and then possibly do a Series A at some point next year.

Joe: Yeah, cool. Always like to finish on a vision for the future, what’s your… what’s Ben’s vision for the future voucher codes online?

Ben Corrigan: So I think, I think programmatic is the future for it. I think that voucher codes, for too long, have been throwing stuff at the wall and see what sticks.

Joe: Sort of not personalised, not clever, not intelligent…

Ben Corrigan: Yeah everyone gets 20% off, well, not everyone should get 20% off. Maybe you are a type of consumer that should get 18% off and I should get 24% off, based on who you are, where you shop, what you visit. The more data that we collect about people, about users’ shopping behaviour, and the closer that retailers have [sic] to understand their own objective and KPIs, you can use voucher codes as a very good mechanism to get the right voucher code to the right user, at the right time, for the right product. And that will be more programmatic, that’s what I see the future of voucher codes being.

Joe: Yeah, I think most tech is becoming – the whole sort of AI bit – programmatic, it’s inevitable. That’s why the idea of evolution. I think we’re in the journey now, we haven’t arrived at all, and it’ll increasingly get more intelligent. And therefore, a positive experience for consumers, which is the obvious bit, the retailers too.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah, I think so, we’ve discussed a lot today, about all of the negative things about voucher codes, and largely it’s because it’s a blunt instrument.

Joe: Yeah, it’s a hatchet.

Ben Corrigan: … But if you can refine it so you can use them just when it’s appropriate for your business, based on your margins, based on your objectives. I think voucher code usage will explode, as in virtually, you just buy retailers, adoption – voucher code adoption I should probably say. And then obviously, as a consequence, usage. So I don’t see the voucher code industry dying out anytime soon.

Joe: No, hope not.

Ben Corrigan: Yeah.

Joe: Cool. Ben, it’s been great speaking. Appreciate your time.

Ben Corrigan: It is great to talk to you as well. Thank you.

Joe: Yeah, thanks. Hope you enjoyed that, as always, we are always keen to hear from you. So if you want to get involved in our future Digital Brew, please get in touch. Thank you.


Thank you very much to Ben for a thoroughly enjoyable and insightful chat – I will be watching the evolution of Pouch with keen interest. If you haven’t installed it, do it now. You know it makes sense.

We hope that you enjoy this episode and, as always, would love to hear from you if you are interested in featuring in a future Digital Brew episode. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to find out more.

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