Jack Matthews, former head of Metro Media at Fairfax has joined Australian start up Rewardle.
Rewardle harnesses the power of mobile computing, cloud based software and big data analysis to provide local High St merchants with the digital engagement tools and business intelligence used by large retail brands.
Matthews managed Fairfax Digital’s growth into a business generating over $200 million in annual revenues before taking on the newly created Metro Media division which was formed to integrate all print, mobile and digital assets across Fairfax’s metropolitan markets including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times.
Since departing the business last year Matthews has been informally assisting a number of tech startups keen to tap into his experience and deep knowledge of the ever evolving digital landscape. His relationship with Rewardle was recently formalised, investing in the company and joining as Chairman.
Founded by technology and media entrepreneur, Ruwan Weerasooriya, Rewardle is on a mission to provide local High St merchants the digital engagement tools and business intelligence typically only available to large retail chains to by unlocking the power of mobile computing, cloud based software and big data analysis.
Rewardle has given the traditional “buy 9, get 1 free” paper punch card a digital makeover and extended its utility by adding prepayment, mobile ordering and social media integrations.
Merchants place a tablet running the Rewardle app on their counter allowing customers to interact with the tablet using a card or the Rewardle smartphone app to record their visit, collect points and redeem rewards.
Rewardle provides members with the convenience of carrying membership data in the cloud and merchants are provided with powerful analytics and marketing tools that have traditionally only been available to large retailers.
Matthews said: “At Fairfax, we showed Australia’s leading brands how to use digital channels to engage with consumers; with Rewardle we’re going to help the little guy unlock the power of big data analysis, email, social and mobile marketing.”
He added: “It makes sense that smaller businesses will want to follow the digital strategy path set by large retail brands but the little guys can’t match their resources and marketing sophistication. Rewardle is stepping in to service this market with tools and guidance. It is a huge opportunity and Rewardle is by far the leading player in the space.”
Matthews connected with Weerasooriya through his previous business, CafeScreen, a media business that operates a national network of digital screens and free WiFi hotspots in around 400 CBD cafes. In 2012 CafeScreen was sold to Australia’s leading out of home media company oOh!Media. Both say the discussion around Matthews joining Rewardle evolved very naturally.
Matthews said: “Fairfax brands were regular advertisers with CafeScreen and having spoken to many aspiring entrepreneurs, I was impressed with how Ruwan operated. We stayed in touch after his sale of CafeScreen and my departure from Fairfax.”
Weerasooriya said: “Jack’s digital experience from Fairfax has obvious application at Rewardle but his time in the pay TV sector will also be very useful to us. I often describe the Rewardle business model as “Foxtel for SME marketing”. Monthly services packages coupled with pay to play features. As we start to focus on monetisation, Jack’s experience and understanding of subscription based business models will come in very handy.”
Local merchants have increasingly become a focus for large companies in the technology, media and banking space. Companies including Google, Facebook, Intuit and Oracle have set their sights on the High St.
Even Matthews’ former employer, Fairfax Media has joined the fray with Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood signalling in early 2013 that targeting SMB merchants marketing spend was part of the company’s strategy.
Matthews said: “It’s going to be a competitive space but Ruwan has great vision and a strong track record when it comes to execution. Ruwan and his team are doing a fantastic job building out the product, establishing traction and rubbing out friction.”
Weerasooriya added: “We’ve been operating as a lean startup but as a small startup chasing a big prize the time was right to more aggressively stake our claim. Jack’s involvement will go a long way in validating the model and will accelerate our growth, particularly with progressing corporate partnerships.”
He added: “Having helped one of Australia’s oldest media and marketing companies transition into a digital business Jack is ideally placed to join our mission of bringing powerful digital customer engagement tech to the High St.”