Tokyo-based Hyper8 Inc., the startup that operates Mespo, a loyalty program platform for restaurants and retail stores, recently announced that it has raised 51 million yen ($510,000) from MID Venture Capital, East Ventures, and two individual investors.
Restaurants and retailers who implement Mespo can use the platform for 980 yen ($9.80) per month. When users make a purchase, they can earn points and collect them using their smartphones. A tablet device that incorporates the platform is distributed to each store, with an LTE connection as well since some stores don’t have wi-fi. At checkout, customers can collect the points by scanning a QR code displayed on the tablet.
Until now over 300 establishments, including restaurants, massage salons and hair salons, have been using the platform. The company aims to tie up with publicly-listed companies who may already have a large network of retailers.
There are already some similar services in Japan, including Gurunavi touch and Recruit point. We spoke to the CEO of Hyper8, Keiji Isogimi, about how his company can differentiate from the competitors.
The loyalty programs provided by Gurunavi and Recruit add points common among member stores. The system doesn’t motivate each store to recommend a loyalty program to customers. That’s one reason why Gurunavi touch is not widely recognized even though its member stores amounts to over 8000 in total.
But with Mespo, each store can offer customers their own points, specific to that store. Of course, if a store is part of a chain, it can use the same points. There are smart features in the app, like a feature to update users in real time about how busy a store is, and send push-notifications of special offers. Those features add motivation for stores to use Mespo.
Given that retailers can borrow the LTE tablet for free, the monthly rate of 980 yen is incredibly low. I can’t help but wonder if Hyper8 could really make a profit from this. Isogimi told us:
We are now focusing on increasing our total member stores. Currently the tablet devices are not on lease. We purchase them and lend them to stores. So most of the funds we raised this time will be used to buy tablet devices.
We aren’t thinking of growing our sales only through Mespo. We noticed that the IT literacy of workers in restaurants and retail stores is getting higher. So we want to add more services based on the network we will build through Mespo, making the business more profitable in that way.
From Left: CEO Keiji Isogimi, board member Shota Morikawa
Until now Hyper8 has been expanding Mespo through profits earned by operating social events. In addition to this fundraising, Shota Morikawa from East Ventures will join the company’s board, aiming to strengthen the team.