Swag’r: The App of Free Stuff

My first encounter with Swag’r was a bit unusual.  My girlfriend and I were going to get snacks at the concession stand during the BC vs. Notre Dame hockey game when a Swag’r campus rep flagged me down with an interesting promise.  “Hey there! Do you want $25 for free?” I have become quite good at ignoring advertisers yelling at me, but the potential for free money got my attention.  Intrigued, I approached the table and was told that if I was one of the first ten people to go around campus and check in at four different geotagged locations, I would get a $25 Visa gift card.

I couldn’t have ran fast enough.  Within fifteen minutes the two of us had sprinted all around campus and made it back to the table in Conte.  And in spite of my skepticism, the Swag’r team actually did hand me a $25 Visa gift card. After the excitement simmered down, I stood back and realized what had just happened.  An app had just convinced me to leave a huge hockey game to go run around in the cold, and I had no regrets.  That’s when I knew Swag’r had something special.

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Company Overview and Business Model

Swag’r was founded in early 2014 by Greg Williams, who currently serves as Chairman and CEO.  The company’s sole product offering is a digital location-based app that serves as a rewards program for its users and as promotional method for brands.

The business model of Swag’r is as follows:

  1. Swag’r partners with businesses and convinces them offer rewards on the app
  2. Users of the app visit a geotagged location marked on a map and pick up their prize
  3. Users then redeem their prize online or in person

Simply put, this business model helps businesses to promote themselves and it helps consumers to get free stuff.  It’s truly a win-win situation.  And because of this, Swag’r’s cost structure is very lean.  Furthermore, almost all of the revenue they will make from digital advertising will become pure profit due to the aforementioned low cost structure.

Consumer Perspective

Swag’r is self-described as the Pokemon Go for brands, and this seems to make a good deal of sense.  Pokemon Go was able to achieve massive, albeit brief, success as a fun and interactive gaming platform.  Swag’r is basically saying that they are the same thing as Pokemon Go, except you can get things of real monetary value.  In addition, Swag’r turns the annoying world of digital advertisements into a fun and interactive gaming experience for consumers.  These consumers use the app in a four step process:

  1. Open the SWAG’R map to find the swag points nearest you
  2. Find offers that peak your interest enough to seek out
  3. Grab deals that you find and want
  4. Redeem, Share, or Gift the rewards or discounts for real monetary value

See here a slideshow of screenshots from the iPhone app

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Brand Perspective

While consumer users of the app can benefit greatly, the company seems to be positioning itself more as a brand-building tool from a business perspective.  See their LinkedIn profile below.

Swag’r is a whole new way for brands to engage with mobile consumers. We use gamification and location based technologies so brands can communicate with users when they are in predicable locations like a college campus, shopping mall, sporting event, or a military base.

Swag’r offers many specific features on the app to entice brand’s to participate:

  1. Cloud-Based Management for efficient and real time interactions with users
  2. Detailed Analytics for brands to evaluate, adjust, and improve their marketing strategies
  3. Marketing Optimization that allows brands to customize and optimize their rewards and discounts offered on the app
  4. Gamification, a system that is proven to consistently reach consumers more than traditional means of digital advertising
  5. Geo-Location which allows brands to place their offers at physical locations beneficial to their operations
  6. Social Media integration, which helps to build a brand’s online presence overall

Swagr places significant emphasis on its data analytics capabilities as a means of positioning itself as a brand-centric business that can add real value for its partners.  The primary part of their analytics platform learns to make accurate predictions about consumer, social, and mobile habits.  This data is then used to engage certain users with brands that will likely be relevant to their needs.  The most important part of these analytics is that the results have been proven to be ten times more engaging than traditional mobile advertising, since the content is targeted at a specific demographic group.

Product Launch & Financials

Although the company is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, the initial product was launched at ASU in Arizona last spring.  The second product launch was right here in the Boston area and occurred in late 2016.  Current areas of operation are Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, and MIT.  The product is expected to expand in the future as it is rolled out in new locations across the country.  In addition, Swag’r has recently landed some strategic partnerships with companies like Lyft, goPuff, and Victoria’s Secret, and many more, which could potentially double their organic growth.

While the financial performance of the company is relatively private, there are a few things we know.  For one thing, the company has raised $325 thousand in a seed round and $1 million in a convertible debt security.  Additionally, one could surmise that the company has yet to make substantial revenues and profits due to its relatively recent product launch.  However, some analysts estimate that the company has already booked an estimated $500 thousand in TTM revenue, and those numbers are expected to grow.  Scaling the operation will be relatively inexpensive and rapid, and such scaling could bring significant rewards given profitability of the Swag’r business model.

Multimedia

If you enjoyed this article and like getting free stuff, be sure to check out the Swag’r website at gotswagr.com as well as the instructional video below!

11 comments

  1. This is a really interesting idea. It always confuses me when things seem just a little too good to be true. I just downloaded the app myself to give it a try! I also saw that BU has more promos than we do, I wonder if this is just because their student base is larger or because Swagr is more established at BU. Regardless, this is a great way for companies to interact with customers and drive traffic.

  2. lenskubal · ·

    This was such an interesting post. Like yourself, I have always been hesitant to advertisers and all of their promises to me as a consumer. The sweeter the deal, the further I run. That has typically been my mindset, but if you shared this same mantra and was convinced otherwise by Swag’r, than maybe I can break my habit too. The apps ability to engage with mobile consumers and raise awareness for brands seems revolutionary. Creating this interactive content and making it more like a game will intrigue many consumers. I am going to download this app and try it for myself. I am interested to see if it will take off in this area, and how the app will progress.

  3. dcardito13 · ·

    The “free” component of your title really caught my attention, and continued to stay captured throughout this blog post. This sounds like a very good idea, especially in the college towns. I can see a multitude of businesses joining the bandwagon with this app because it is a great advertising campaign to further companies’ brand awareness. I’m amazed at how much money Swag’r raised already, hopefully foreshadowing an immense amount of future growth. I’m definitely going to be downloading this app to check it out!

  4. clinecapen · ·

    Nice post, you have a great flow to your writing and the content was very engaging. Plus I have never heard of Swag’r so that’s a bonus. This is such an interesting concept but although they seem to have first mover advantage this seems like a concept that could be easily duplicated.

  5. Nice post. I like the personal experience best. My sense is that these sorts of things will become gimmicky quick. You’ll leave the hockey game once for $25, but over time you’ll realize the hockey game is the better use of your time. But, I’ve been wrong in the past. Thanks for the insight!

  6. joeking5445 · ·

    Very intriguing concept! I wonder if it will take off. I can see it being more marketable to younger crowds, high schoolers and college students. I do not know if it will be able to reach older markets. That may not even be Swag’r focus. The music to the movie at the end is definitely geared to younger generations. I think digital location apps will be very successful in the future. Like pokemon go it allows you to interact with the world in a different way. I am not sold on this yet.

  7. I love learning about new apps like this through the posts on our feed because I feel like you guys have very credible + noteworthy testimonials. I can see apps like Swag’r doing well in cities like Boston where communities are densely concentrated in specific areas surrounding campuses, but I’m excited to see how well they diversify across different types of places. If I were to speak objectively about concerns, it’s how copiable and integrable it is by apps or brands with more established consumer bases, as mentioned in previous comments.

  8. jordanpanza29 · ·

    I thought this was a great post! The app does seem cool and the rewards are very intriguing. I wonder if it would actually last. I feel as though apps like these are popular in the beginning due to the new effect of it all. After the app has been around for a while I wonder if the prizes could actually get less competitive and thus make users not want to use it as much. There have been other similar apps that have simmered out after a few months after the hype goes away.

  9. zfarkas17 · ·

    Its clear you’ve put a lot of thought into this. Rewards systems can be very popular with users. Like some of the other commenters have said, I wonder if its a lasting formula, the same question applies to the app I spoke about JoyRyde where it is clear the incentive program is a good start but may have limits.

  10. lesleyzhou · ·

    Great post on this new startup! Actually, as I was reading this post, I realized it reminded me a lot of the BC start up Jebbit, which is a company that also helps big brands advertise in an unconventional way to its consumers by incentivizing customers to read up facts/answer questions about a certain company in order to obtain $$$ or deals. I think this new shift in marketing is due to our lack of attention span (due to social media and its influence on how we want new updated info all the time) and thus an effective way to advertise is to have the customer be incentivized rather than have the company pushing its content on unwilling users.

  11. Wow thanks guys! I love the article and love the feedback in the comments and please keep them coming. We love to learn!! SWAG’R’s content will just get better as we grow. We are working with more and more Brands everyday! We will make sure that all the content on the swag’r map is relative to the college student so when you look at the swag’r map it will encourage you to engage and grab that SWAG! @teamswagr

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