Reward-If-Found: Steve English

Reward-If-Found: Steve English

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Have you ever found a stranger’s wallet, cell phone or keys, wanted to return it, but not had a way to reach them? According to Steve English, founder of Reward-If-Found, studies prove that 90% of people around the world are inherently honest. We want to return the things other people lose, we just don’t know how.

A serial entrepreneur, inspiration for English’s latest venture struck when he lost a valuable item at an airport. “I realised that whoever found my valuable wouldn’t have a clue how to return it to me,” he explains. “I also think people are inherently honest. So the question was: how could I find a solution to losing items and tap into that basic characteristic?”

Lost and Found

Reward-If-Found has iron-on, stick-on and key chain tags that carry the company’s ‘carrot’ logo, a unique code and a sms number. “All the person who finds the item needs to do is sms the code to the number,” says English. “And the person whose item it is will contact them. They can then reward the ‘good Samaritan’ if they wish, and from our side the person is entered into the incentives draw.” To date a MacBook Pro and surround sound system, both valued at R18 000, have been won.

Brand Power

“It is essential to grow the brand so that everyone will recognise and use the system,” explains English. “Because the business model works on subscriptions, the

numbers are essential, so we need market penetration, which takes a lot of marketing.” As a result, the company’s start-up costs have been significant, with R1 million already having been invested in marketing. With a successful and established business under his belt, English and his partner, Craig Jackson, have invested their own funds in the company instead of approaching a bank for a loan, but without the brand taking off, the investment will have been for nothing.

“My background is in marketing, so I know how important it is – and with this venture in particular we need to create a brand that ultimately will be instantly recognisable to all South Africans.”

Shifting Strategies

The road since launch has not been smooth, but the experienced English knows this is par for the course. “Business takes hard work and dedication, but also the ability to see what doesn’t work and shift strategies accordingly,” he says.

“Our pilot programme was not successful. We offered package deals: a pack of ten tags for free if you signed up for the year at a subscription fee of R50 per month, which covered up to 50 tags. No one was going for it. It was a new company and customers did not want to be tied into R50 a month for a product and service they didn’t know.

“So we changed the model. Now, we sell each individual tag or key chain and the first year’s subscription is worked into that price. Thereafter it’s R30 per year. Customers no longer feel bound by the monthly subs fee for tags they don’t think they will use and can instead buy tags as they need them.” In addition, companies are getting on board, with orders by the thousands. How far will this carrot travel?

For more information call 0860 CARROT (227768) or visit www.reward-if-found.co.za

Nadine Todd
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.