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Virtual treasurehunt with a cunning twist – interview with Snatch founder Joe Martin

Earlier this week we did an interview with Joe Martin, the founder and CEO of Snatch. The London-based startup provides users with an exciting virtual world that they can immerse themselves in on a daily basis to challenge their friends and win huge prizes from some of the world’s best brands. Delivered as a virtual treasurehunt with a cunning twist, Joe and his team want the world to be excited to jump out of bed every morning and to engage with brands and to enjoy the free fast-paced mobile experience of Snatch. The company was founded in 2015 and Snatch was officially launched in 2016. Since then the startup experienced a rapid growth.

What did you do before founding Snatch and how did you come up with the idea?

My background is in forensic science, and this early career informed some unique opinions and approaches around brand sales and marketing, even before Snatch was conceived. I developed unique strategies that used elements of behavioural engineering, neuro-marketing, and personality insight, which allowed me to work with some of the world’s largest international brands.

From a consumer point of view, I was also frustrated by paying for mobile experiences that had no tangible takeaway. I wanted to create something that challenged the status quo on both the brand and consumer sides, but also something that gave users new and exciting experiences to engage with each and every day, outside of the daily grind.

Just before developing Snatch I worked for bar app Orderella, where I met my now co-founder Jamal Hirani. We instantly formed a strong bond and were in sync with our general approach to business – we are both stone-cold hustlers, and it was from there that Snatch was born.

What is the premise of Snatch and what’s the main differentiator of the app?

Snatch is a next generation mobile experience that uses the latest augmented reality (AR) and geolocation technology to bridge the digital and real world. Our main difference is that we give our players prizes in the real world. Though we allow people to buy virtual currency and access features within the app, these can be used to win real, tangible prizes from some of the coolest brands out there.

What does augmented reality (AR) enable marketers to do that traditional advertising doesn’t?

AR is barely being used by brands right now, and in the short time we’ve been in existence, we’ve had a lot of interest from so many different brands. Marketers really understand and appreciate the value of interacting with an audience in new ways rather than just using the more traditional approach.

Snatch forces brands to take a different approach to marketing and puts the control in the consumer’s hands – our players have to seek out prizes and brands they want to win from. It encourages them to explore the world around them, getting them to step outside and find the brand’s prizes.

Using AR challenges traditional marketing methods and changes the way the consumer views brands. Players are given the chance to choose the type of parcels they hope to find, allowing us to show them the brands they genuinely want to see and create that relationship.

Consumers are savvier now than ever before – they know their worth and the value of their time. They know they have control over the brands they want to interact with – and we empower them to do this on their terms.

How have you gone about securing brand interest to use the platform?

I spend a lot of time researching relevant partners. We want to make sure we work with organisations that understand Snatch and are actively looking for what it offers: a way to drive welcome engagement with consumers and get products in front of an active, millennial audience.

What has been your biggest milestone with Snatch that you achieved so far?

When we partnered with Unilever Ventures, we knew we were on to a winner. Receiving a six-figure investment before the app had even launched was a real vote of confidence. Not only did we secure the funding, we also partnered with a company that understood our values and appreciated our offering. It gave us a powerful endorsement to use when speaking to other potential investors and partners.

What are the next milestones for the company?

Right now, we’re focused on continuing to gather insights and refining how we engage with our users. By measuring the engagement between our users and the prizes from a given brand, the Snatch team can easily see what genuinely resonates and how to target more effectively in the future. We constantly build on the consumer personas we develop in the background, so that when we work with new brands we can say something like “these guys here like music, they’re 18-24” and start matching brands with the right consumers.

We’re doing new things from a consumer point of view as well, as we provide users with the chance to win actual prizes through a mobile, digital experience – not just digital rewards – tailored to their preferences. What will this potential personalisation lead to in the future? If you ask me, the sky’s the limit. We’ll continue to explore what our users want and refine how we deliver this, keeping the user experience in mind at all times.

With a fast-growing team of roughly 40 employees, how do you keep your team motivated and how do you support the corporate culture?

As a fast-growing startup we really pride ourselves on our family culture. We’re currently based at WeWork in South Bank Central, and recently became the fastest growing company at any WeWork location in London. It’s a fantastic place to be as it allows you to meet other like-minded people and brands – it’s been perfect for us. We get the opportunity to talk every day with other innovative people, find out what they’re up to, and learn about what they’re creating. It helps to inspire us and potentially open up chances to partner with exciting new brands a bit further down the road.

As a tech entrepreneur in London, do you expect the Brexit to have a rather positive or rather negative effect on the further development of the City’s startup scene?

The argument about who agrees with what will rumble on but the unique thing about us as a startup is that we can adapt. We are agile, nimble and we can find solutions to the bigger and more difficult problems.

Our job as entrepreneurs is to keep one eye on what’s happening politically and, whether we agree with it or not, stay ahead of the curve. This is what will keep the UK tech and startup scene booming and I’m sure it will create more opportunities for the savvy who will jump in there and start fixing the problems it may cause. What shall be, shall be and we will make the best of whatever happens – and we will thrive.

As Mike Tyson once said ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ And, at the moment, it seems as if Brexit is being viewed as a bit of a punch in the mouth – people still seem stunned by what’s going on. But whichever way you see it, now’s the time for us to start planning for the future and getting ready to adapt to whatever comes next.

Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr is the "Editor in Chief" of EU-Startups.com and started the blog in October 2010. He is excited about Europe's future, passionate about new business ideas and lives in Barcelona (Spain).

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