My big idea: Airtime Rewards

The loyalty scheme for mobile users is booming, explains co-founder Josh Graham
BizAge Interview Team
Airtime rewards app

Hi Josh! What's your elevator pitch?

Airtime Rewards is the loyalty programme for the mobile generation. Members seamlessly earn money off their mobile bills for shopping with over 180 major retail brands. Our unique and highly relevant rewards currency is proven to influence incremental sales for retail partners.

What does the market need?

The market is demanding personalised and data-led rewards programmes, and consumers want relevant and impactful rewards currency. Airtime Rewards, a data-driven marketing technology and customer loyalty rewards platform, is responding to this need by incentivising members to spend via personalised retail offers using transactional, behavioural and open banking data, while enabling merchants to acquire and retain shoppers in a seamless way. We have more than 180 retailers on our platform and more than 3 million members who receive rewards for their spending every day.

Where is the business today?

We are currently in the scale-up phase, experiencing consistent growth from both our member base and onboarding new retail partners. There is a significant opportunity for expansion in the UK, with international ambitions also on the horizon. We have just hired a Head of International Expansion who is helping us achieve just this, focusing predominantly on Europe and the USA - it’s an exciting time for the business.

What made you think there was money in this?

We had a very deep understanding of the partnership and marketing dynamics within the mobile industry, as well as where the value was sitting. We also saw an opportunity for mobile networks to create a rewards program - connecting them more deeply with consumers, as well as retailers. Nothing existed outside of what we were working on at the time - Orange Wednesdays - and we knew there were valuable connections and relationships to be built.

What's your biggest strength?

Our biggest strength lies in our data and segmentation capabilities. Through this, we’re providing value to all of the parties in our ecosystem - merchants see increased sales, members are rewarded for their purchases, and networks have a new technology to incentivise loyalty.

What is the secret to making the business work?

Building the business on sound financial principles has been crucial to us and our growth to date. From inception, we’ve focused on getting the basics right and have managed to grow organically without raising significant amounts of capital. This, as well as ensuring we’re consistently providing value to merchants, consumers and networks, has been fundamental to making the business the success it is today.

How do you market the company?

Our marketing strategy varies depending on which of our three audience groups we’re reaching. For retailers, it's about leveraging our relationships and networks, and really leveraging our expertise in performance marketing, whereas our members hear from us through the app, through our mobile network partners, and on social media.

What funding do you have? Is it enough?

We've raised £1.4 million to date, and this has been invested back into the business to fuel future organic growth. Our last investment round was in 2018, and while we've worked to sustain and grow with this funding, we're always mindful of opportunities for strategic investment in the future.

Tell us about the business model

Our business model revolves around merchants paying us a fee based on incentivised sales. This fee structure is performance based, with increased sales driving more revenue for both parties. We offer variable rates based on the objectives of retailers, all while ensuring members remain a priority. It’s important to add that we do not sell any customer or retailer data; our focus is solely on generating sales for our retail partners.

What were you doing before?

Before my business partner, Adam Ward, and I founded Airtime Rewards, we were working for a tech company which provided mobile marketing solutions to various businesses. Our expertise lay in developing mobile strategies for major UK retailers, including providing the technology behind initiatives like Orange Wednesdays.

Are there any technologies you've found useful?

As a high growth business with ambitions to expand internationally, we use serverless infrastructure, particularly leveraging AWS.

What is the future vision?

Our future vision is around solidifying our position as a leading marketing tech platform with major retailers in the UK. Beyond that, we aim to expand internationally, targeting markets in Europe and the US. Our goal is to continue innovating and revolutionising the rewards program landscape on a global scale.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
March 14, 2024