Australian crowdsourcing platform Snooper has raised $1 million in funding as it looks to break into overseas markets.
The funding round was led by Sydney-based Microequities Venture Capital Fund, which is no stranger to funding Australian startups.
Shaking up a relatively undisturbed market, Snooper helps brands and retailers collect real-time customer data by uploading “missions” for customers to complete.
“Missions” can vary from mystery shopping to completing consumer surveys, are are made available by retailers via the Snooper app.
Snooper attempts to provide a cost-effective alternative for brands and retailers to monitor the execution of sales and marketing strategies in real time.
In close to 18 months of operation, Snooper has built up a userbase of 25,000 active users in metro and regional areas, including remote locations such as Alice Springs and Magnetic Island in Queensland’s north, and is reporting a 20% month-on-month growth.
As is often the case with paid crowdsourcing apps, Snooper’s best users are not merely earning some spare change but making close to $1000 per month.
Some big names can be found in Snoopers’ client portfolio, with internationally recognised brands such as Heineken, Unilever and Coca-Cola at the top of the list.
“We are grateful to have had the support of amazing brands in the early days and are happy to see that crowdsourcing creates a new collaboration model between brands and retailers driving sales uplift for both parties and leading to better customer experience,” Snooper co-founder Romain Stas said in a statement.
Snooper launched in November 2016, and co-founder Laurie Wespes tells SmartCompany the first year went “really, really fast” as the business expanded.
With the gig economy taking the world by storm, Wespes says Snooper seemed like the perfect opportunity to assist both retailers and consumers.
Wespes mentioned popular rideshare app Uber as an example of everyday people cashing in on the gig economy, the only downfall being that “not everyone has a car but almost everyone has a phone”.
Snooper wasted no time in progressing the platform as far as they could in a short amount of time, participating in Telstra-backed technology startup accelerator muru-D.
“It wasn’t really that hands-on, it was structured really well and it was great to be surrounded by and have one-on-ones with mentors,” Wespes says of the program.
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Choosing the right investor and raising $1 million
Horror stories occasionally arise from the world of startups taking the big leap with external investors, but Wespes says the capital raise process went without a hiccup. “The process has been really great for us. We have learnt a lot throughout the journey,” she says.
“We settled with Microequities Venture Capital Fund and we chose them because they have been following us since our very first launch,” she says.
“They also have a lot of marketplaces in their portfolio; we feel that it was a great fit. We are actually really grateful about the way it went. All of the investors were really constructive.”
Wespes and Stas met with a number of “great investors” but eventually followed their gut and partnered with the fund that had been around from the very beginning.
So where does a platform with a fresh $1 million round of funding look to grow? There’s a couple of ideas in the think tank, but expansion is a pressing priority.
“The first thing is that it fuels the growth in regional areas. We really want to stretch our user base,” Wespes says.
Improving the app’s features and usability is also high on the funding to-do list, alongside collaborating further with retailers to “draw up” some fresh strategies.
The million-dollar funding injection is a great start to any new project, but Wespes is looking long-term for the company, which the team “definitely wants to be a global business”; Asia and its “very fragmented retail area” as one of its first targets.
“Australia is an amazing market. It has challenges that can’t be found in other areas,” she says.
After having a dream run finding the right investor, Wespes believes preparation is the key.
“First of all, be really clear as to why you need the funding and what you are going to do with it,” she says about entering the fundraising process.
“This is a long-term relationship. Get to know your investors and have a clear understanding of what role you want them to play in your business.”