On the up · 23 June 2017

Children’s game serves as inspiration for marketing app

pass the parcel app
Scattr represents a step towards the gamification of marketing

It was during her post-graduate thesis that Megan Canavan identified the potential of tying up brand marketing with culturally-ingrained ideas and concepts. The young startup founder knew a pass the parcel marketing app would instantly resonate with users and generate interaction with participating brands.

With a young team all fresh out of university, Scattr has already experienced a positive reception in the founder’s home of Northern Ireland. The plan now is to use impressive early growth as a platform to reach a wider audience across the UK.

Business Advice sat down with Canavan to find out more about her marketing app and why brands should be paying close attention to Scattr.

  1. Who are you and what’s your business?

My name is Megan Canavan and my business is a mobile app called Scattr.

Scattr is digital pass the parcel – businesses send out “parcels” to our users’ phone, containing a chance to win a prize “wrapped up” in a ten second advert about that business. Win or lose, the users can then pass the chance to win onto their friends.

  1. How long have you been around for?

We officially went to market in October 2016, so around eight months now. The idea for Scattr came about when I was studying a Master’s degree in marketing. My dissertation was centered around the idea of skeuomorphs – using old-school idealology and functionality to introduce new innovations.

Using terms and concepts that people are familiar with can really help with adoption rates, and a digital pass the parcel app had never been done before. The more it was discussed, the more it clicked that it had the potential to be an effective way to advertise.

  1. How does your marketing app make money?

The businesses that sign up to Scattr pay to run their campaigns – we have a very affordable pricing model and businesses are only paying when a parcel is opened, i.e. when an ad is actually watched.

They can of course cap the amount they wish to spend on each ad campaign. With a pay as you go system, the businesses and brands only run a campaign when the timing is right for them.

If they’re having a quiet day, they can launch a giveaway right on the spot to put themselves at the forefront of people’s minds and hopefully bring them to the store. The app is completely free for the end user.

  1. What makes you different and why should people take notice?

Scattr encompasses gamification and referral marketing in a very unique way. Everyone understands the terms “pass the parcel” and “free stuff” – so there are no limits as to who can get involved.

With Scattr, users are actually engaging with their favourite brands rather than simply “putting up with them” – scrolling past ads are a thing of the past.

The parcels are passed on through a personal referral system meaning the ads are seen by the right people with a genuine interest, as recommended by their friends.

Brands are able to cap campaign costs and only pay when a parcel is opened
Brands are able to cap campaign costs and only pay when a parcel is opened

Mobile marketing is still a relatively new concept, but it’s growing fast. We believe we have a platform that is relevant for everyone, from BMW to burger vans, football clubs to florists, Rolex to restaurants.

  1. What was key in terms of getting started?

Collectively we decided on what we believed was going to be Scattr’s minimum viable product – as soon as we had an app that did the bare bones of what we needed it to, we took it to the streets.

You can spend months or years making the perfect product, but you won’t know if there’s a market for it until you actually put it out there and give it a go.

  1. What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Every new sign-up and download is an achievement.

Recently we had a great fortnight where we made it through to the semi-finals of Invent 2017, were shortlisted for the North West Business Awards & Business Cloud’s 101 Rising Tech Start-ups. It was a brilliant feeling to have been recognised multiple times nation-wide.

  1. What setbacks have you had along the way?

Like every startup, trial and error is part of our day to day life. When you have a great plan of action and it doesn’t turn out the way you envisioned it, it can be hard to pick yourself back up and try something else.

However, we have been lucky enough (so far) that we haven’t experienced any major knock-backs, and with a great team we always make sure to encourage each other to regroup and try again.

  1. In five years’ time, I will be…

Passing parcels globally. We definitely want to take our digital pass the parcel world-wide, but we have a long list of other exciting ideas and features that we will be adding to Scattr alongside it.

  1. What one tip would you give to others starting out?

Listen to any and all feedback that comes your way.

Sometimes it’s easy to have tunnel vision and get wrapped up in your own ideas, but it’s the customers using your product who are going to see it for what it really is and provide the most valuable insights. There’s always room for improvement.

  1. Who are your business heroes and why?

Heroes start at home! Growing up, my Dad worked insane hours, travelled wherever he needed to go across the globe without a second thought to make his business into the success that it was.

I remember many a Saturday playing on the whiteboards in his office while he put another day in. I don’t know anyone with that level of determination who can also see the positive side no matter what the situation is.

If you’ve been inspired by Canavan’s marketing app, find out how to make your mark and stand out  in the app store

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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