Most people think entrepreneurship is one of the riskiest decisions they can ever make in their life. Not Taggo‘s Aneace Haddad. The 49 year-old CEO and owner of the mobile card solutions provider says that entrepreneurship is the safest career path he could have chosen.
“I have always felt that working for someone else, or in a large organization, is very risky and boring,” says Aneace, who has spent 25 years in the payments, real-time marketing, smart cars and point-of-sales systems business. “There are very few opportunities for radical creativity once a company reaches a certain size. Organizations become much more self-centered and focused on their own internal politics once they grow beyond the startup phase.”
Aneace has written many articles about his trade and is even an author of a couple of books – A New Way To Pay: Creating Competitive Advantage Through The Emv Smart Card Standard and Using Smart Cards to Gain Market Share – both of which are available on Amazon. Aneace was a programmer early in his career, although the last 17 years were spent as a founder, CEO and chairman of various marketing and payment-related companies. It’s such familiarity with tap and go RFID technology and contactless payments that led him to the idea of Taggo.
The inspiration for Taggo came one evening at dinner at a small restaurant near his home here in Singapore. The restaurant he was at a flyer on the table announcing a brand new discount card program. The problem was – it could only be used in just the restaurant’s two outlets. What a hassle, Aneace had thought, to fill out a form for a card that could only be used at just one restaurant.
“Then it dawned on me that if joining the program were painless, with no need to fill out a form and no need to carry another card, then I would probably sign up,” Aneace says. “I knew that the retailer would need the customer data just as if a form had been filled out. The next steps were to find a way to make the process as simple and easy as possible without disintermediating the retailer.”
Taggo basically provides a convenient and affordable way to use a mobile phone to replace plastic loyalty, prepaid and membership cards. Customers no longer need to carry as many cards in their wallets, and can join new programs with a simple text message, without the hassle of filling out forms. Retailers benefit too – they can sign up new customers easier, at lower cost, and can achieve higher usage than with plastic cards that tend to be left at home.
Setting Itself Apart From Competitors
Aneace says the companies that compete most closely with Taggo are those that provide RF-ID stickers similar to Taggo, but which can generally only be used with a single retailer. “There are currently no companies offering the full solution that Taggo offers, including a general purpose RFID sticker that can be used with many different programs, as well as a card storefront that allows customers to add new programs to their Taggo account either through SMS or the Taggo website,” Aneace explains.
To date, four CRM (customer relationship management) companies have already integrated Taggo into their offerings, and together they serve a large number of retailers in Singapore and across Southeast Asia. A key advantage is that Taggo‘s patent-pending technology works with all mobile phones and carriers, ensuring easy scalability.
To ensure the company’s continued growth, Aneace says his strategy is two-fold. “First, we are helping our four existing resellers deploy their Taggo-enabled solutions for retailers in Singapore. Second, we want to sign up as value added resellers (VARs) another 50 CRM companies in 20 countries.”
“We expect to achieve this milestone by the end of 2010.”
“Entrepreneurship is a wonderful opportunity to express one’s creativity,” Aneace says. “Good ideas will be rewarded through market acceptance, and bad ideas can be discarded quickly so there is no wasted time and efforts.”
“That’s when I found that I could patent the solution and build a company on this simple idea.”