SoPost: A New Way of Product Sampling

SoPost will be exhibiting in the Tech of Today and Tomorrow Theatre at TFM&A 2015.

When: 25 & 26 February 2015
Where: Olympia London

Come and take a look at what they have to offer, register now!

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The SoPost platform lets people share their love of their favourite brands by sending physical and digital gifts to their friends via social media.

Founders: Jonathan Grubin, Founder & CEO, skills: team building, business development, product development
Launched: October 2013
Headquarters: Newcastle
Staff: 6
Funding: £475,000

SoPost logo1. Please describe your tech.

Our technology allows brands to get their product samples into the hands of the right consumers. Our core product allows consumers to gift real items to their friends via social media, and helps brands drive trial in a targeted way amongst their existing customers’ networks, communicate and convert post-trial, and generate a significant amount of online buzz and exposure.

2. Who is the product for?

Our product is used by FMCG brands, predominantly in the worlds of beauty and food and drink. Our clients include Benefit Cosmetics, Britvic and Liz Earle Beauty Co.

3. What problem does your tech solve for marketers?

There are a number of limitations with sampling as it is performed today. For example, there is a lack of effective targeting, a huge amount of wastage (where people don’t even try the product or throw it straight in the bin), limited data capabilities and an inability to really understand what has happened post-trial. We solve these issues.

4. What sectors will your tech disrupt?

We’re working hard to change the way product sampling and direct mail is performed.

5. How do you plan to fund your business?

I funded everything myself until launch. We’ve since gone on to raise about £475,000 from a VC fund and a range of awesome angel investors.

6. Who are your competitors?

I view our competitors as other sampling channels, such as publishing companies, box subscription services (like Glossybox) and, of course, on-street and in-store giveaways.

7. What inspired you to start the business?

I’ve always been a bit of entrepreneur (though I’m not the biggest fan of the word). SoPost really grew from a burning desire to revolutionise the postal system and, not starting the business just wasn’t really an option. There’s a lot that I want to do, with SoPost and beyond, and I’m trying to build some good foundations for that.

8. How did you go from talking about starting a business, to actually launching one?

I started my first business when I was quite young, and have been involved in a few since then, which probably made it a bit easier for me to get SoPost up and running. It was a slow process at first – I wanted to make sure I’d covered as many bases as possible, and that I was working with the right people. But, once we finally started, everything went extremely quickly from there. I’ve found that once I start, even if it’s just the smallest option, it’s pretty hard to get me to stop.

9. What challenges have you had to face and how have you overcome them?

I could probably fill a book with a list of the challenges I’ve encountered. They’re all different, and range from finding and building the right team, to raising investment, to managing cash flow. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a number of people who have seen and experienced all these challenges before, and they often help me find a solution, if I can’t find one myself.

10. What is the best advice you’ve ever received, who gave it to you and what advice do you have for others in your position?

“Choose the path of least resistance.” Dylan Collins, CEO of SuperAwesome, gave me this advice in the early days of SoPost and it really helped change my mindset. The advice I would pass on is clichéd, but it’s all about the people. Build a team of people who are stronger and better than you, and surround yourself with individuals who will make you a better human being.

11. Where do you see your company in ten years?

We’re pretty focused on changing the way brands do product sampling, and that’s going to keep us busy for at least the next few years. We have some big plans beyond that.

12. What are your predictions for the future of this technology in that timeframe? And tech in general?

Targeting and consumer engagement are two areas that I think are really important, not just in this space, but with marketing more broadly, and if I had to take a guess, I’d say that a lot of what we see will converge here over the coming years.

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Lara Doyle

Lara Doyle

Senior Content Manager, TFM Insights

Lara Doyle is Senior Content Manager at UBM EMEA, Tech a global events business, and covers Technology for Marketing, eCommerce Expo and London Technology Week.

February 2, 2015

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