Have you ever wondered where those coupons go after you hand them over to the cashier? To make a long story short, they get sent to a processor who then ships them down to a clearinghouse in Mexico where they are counted and sorted by hand. Then the manufacturer gets notified and there are a number of additional steps to get the coupons redeemed. The entire process takes upwards of 30 to 90 days and looks much the same as it did back in the 1950s.
CouponCloud, a SparkLabKC Class of 2014 graduate company, is disrupting this archaic process with a technology solution. Their software takes the coupon at the point of sale in the store and validates it immediately, giving grocers and manufacturers a way to process and redeem paper coupons quickly and also guard against losing money due to fraudulent coupons. Ledby CTO and co-founder John Epperson, Team CouponCloud is revolutionizing the coupon industry.
The SparkLabKC Advantage
While in the program, the knowledge gained and the introductions made were very beneficial for the company. Because of some of these introductions, CouponCloud began working with the Regional Grocers Association of Kansas City, which has allowed them to focus on a specific market and implement their product in stores.
Relationships fostered through SparkLabKC also led to an investment from DST Systems Inc., and broad awareness of CouponCloud in the Kansas City investment community. This investment is the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between CouponCloud and DST, which is a major player in Kansas City’s business community and a global technology leader.
“SparkLabKC really helped us bring clarification to the idea. It helped us to build a market strategy and pretty much everything - financials and introductions to critical strategic and investment partners. The mentoring process provides a ton of value tha you can’t at first see.”
The DST investment will allow CouponCloud to accelerate the development of their retail component. News of the investment generated press coverage in Yahoo! Finance, Bloomberg Business, Kansas City Business Journal, and the Kansas City Star, increasing CouponCloud’s national profile as a startup company to watch.
“SparkLabKC gave us credibility in the community. The program gives you legitimacy that you have a good idea.”
– John Epperson
Now in fundraising mode for their seed round, CouponCloud is looking ahead. Team CouponCloud aims to close the round in 2015 with the investors and interest they have lined up. Once funding is in place, they plan to hire additional staff and continue building out the product.
Advice for Future SparkLabKCers
“You need to make the best of [the program]. This is a goal and opportunity…a rare ticket. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. If you don’t think you know what you’re doing, you probably don’t. Ask for help.”
- John Epperson