We bring you a series of interviews with the 10 companies accepted into Startupbootcamp’s Sports & EventTech cohort.
In this edition we talked to the co-founder of IntelliCUP, Brian Stockdale.
One of the intriguing opportunities is that once we all start going back into stadia, arenas, festivals one of the major solutions is going to be contactless experiences and solutions. So it’s rather necessary and timely, what you’re producing. What’s your take on the contactless stadia or contactless arena opportunity?
Brian Stockdale: “When we developed the system it was a self-cleaning, quick dispensing IntelliHead, combined with the actual IntelliCup but the way it’s all been designed wasn’t necessarily for pure hygiene purposes. We developed it for smartness, for IoT opportunities, all the data that it delivers, being high speed, cashless, just to take the tiniest requirement of cash handling out the system.
“What it’s done now is ensure that we actually have a no touch beer dispensing system. Hygiene and touchless was an added benefit, now it’s almost moved to the top of the importance pile given that the expected consumer behaviour traits that are going to be changing down the road. So once a person has a cell/mobile phone, and they have a cup and the app, they actually don’t need to touch anything else. They have their own cup for the period of the event. All they do is they walk up with their cup and handle to an IntelliHead, put a cup into the docking station, pour their beer and walk away, they haven’t touched any surface, they haven’t touched a barman, they haven’t had to handle cash which is coming out of a till from somebody else and they’ve had no interaction whatsoever.
“So the fact it’s a one user cup per event that can get washed, recycled, cleaned properly put back into the system, and then the fact that the dispensing system is no touch has become a major benefit.”
It’s telling that exposure, safety and distancing has filtered through the consumer psychology side.
BS: “Yes, absolutely. It then becomes a benefit for stadiums and stadium operators who can start offering contactless dispensing as far as beverages are concerned. Just to give customer peace of mind.
“Once a person’s downloaded and registered on the app, whoever the entity is – be it the stadium, the brewer who might be pouring, or the concessionaire that might have the rights to pour – they can send direct messages to these registered users around hygiene, benefits and anything appropriate. There’s a lot of education opportunities as well as peace of mind for the customer.”
Then we get to the customer satisfaction side as well. Having a good pour and very short wait times.
BS: “Not having to stand in crowds for too long with people too close to you as well.
“There’s also another benefit in that that you can walk up, 12 to 15 seconds end-to-end dispensing, the transaction is done, it’s all happened in the cloud, you’ve got your perfect pour and off you go.
“In some stadiums, the beer dispensing areas are quite tight and crowded, so we can help lessen people congregating, people can pick up their beer and be able to go back to their seats quite comfortably.
“So we can be very agile, we can even make the dispensing units mobile and create additional dispensing areas in stadiums to prevent people congregating.”
Looking at partnerships, to me there could be partnerships with stadium operators, music festival organisers and more but what verticals could you target and find partners with?
BS: “Part of the learning is, say an event in a stadium, is finding out who owns or controls that stadium. For example, at the O2 Arena we got hooked up with Levy, which is part of the Compass Group. They run concessionaires. So Levy were like, ‘fantastic, let’s see how we can pour beer.’ Now their beer sponsor is AB InBev. So we didn’t know we needed AB InBev as a beer sponsor to sign off on this, Levy got all excited and said, ‘let’s do a POC but we’ve got one next level to sign off.’ For us only to wait a couple of weeks to meet up with somebody from AEG Worldwide who actually own the O2 Arena. So often, it’s a minefield for us to go through; who gets excited about the product, but who is the end person who makes the call.
“So we’re also dependent on these questions: does the concessionaire make the call, does the concessionaire put in the pouring equipment, does the concessionaire only pour and the brewer puts in the pouring equipment, or does the concessionaire only pour and the owner of the stadium puts in the pouring equipment, so many questions right? So often we’ve got to find out who the right people are.
“With our business however, because we are data rich as far as the merchant is concerned: we can track the number of cups docked, the number of unique cups, volume through the system, money in the bank account, success rate of pouring per area in the stadium. We can track all of that and much more. We also then have the customer data. Our view is that whoever owns this equipment, owns rights to the data so it’s also a disruptive opportunity.
“Brewers I know around the world are trying to find ways to talk to customers at point of consumption. At the moment, there’s no system that allows them to do that. As soon as they pour the beer, they don’t know. They might have an idea of who is drinking beer based on the person who is attending certain events but you don’t know what they’re drinking, or how much they drink or how much they spend. This actually gives you all of that data. The data opportunity does allow for a disruptive market approach and it’s going to be interesting to see because even though there are relationships between concessionaires, event owners and brewers and more I’m sure that there’s some competition between all of them as well. So it’s something that we analyse, it’s not our strategy to try and play one off against the other. We don’t mind at the end of the day who owns these pouring IntelliHeads but there are benefits for each of those entities in the in the value chain.”
What kinds of potential pilots and potential opportunities will occur? The ones that you signed up before the shutdown could they be occurring again once we get to 2021?
BS: “We’ve run a number of pilots already, in the US, UK, we’ve run in South Africa and we’ve actually had heads pouring remotely in Russia as a test. We know the system can basically pour and we can do a trial with one or two IntelliHeads or 10 of them it just depends on how big the company wants to go at the time. Even though we can pour a maximum of four beers a minute, which is still 200 per cent better than what a normal draught pour is, there’s still a limit. So if you can pour four beers a minute out of one IntelliHead – if you’ve got two hours to pour that’s 480 beers.
“That might be enough of a proof of concept, if people have downloaded the app you’ve got to allow time for people to come back. So if people want two or three beers and you can only pour 480 you can’t give up 480 cups, you’ve got to limit all of those kind of things. So, absolutely pilots for us is to put in two or four pouring IntelliHeads with the stock of cups, educate people to download the app, so it can be completely cashless and that’s how simple you can run a proof of concept. Everything’s live, everything’s working, all the payment gateways work , we use an external payment gateway like Stripe. So there should be a level of confidence with people to register their credit card because it’s with a recognised entity. So now it’s just getting the opportunities to get in front of customers with an on-the-ground partner.”
There are plenty of exciting opportunities, you’ve run pilots and there’s more to come so how do you keep yourselves level-headed, grounded and not try not to take on ‘thousands’ of opportunities, and remain focussed?
BS: “For us, it would be the easiest markets to enter being that they’re English. So we don’t have to go and do translations of the app for the customer or translations on the IntelliHub for the merchant because that obviously gets into a whole lot of confusion in the early stages. Countries that have a higher incidence of smartphones and obviously countries that like beer. So those are kind of our key areas UK, US, South Africa to a certain extent, but we are a very small market and then obviously Australia being a bigger one.
“We don’t want to extend any further than this at the moment, we’ve got a full strategic list of the biggest on-consumption beer venues in Europe. And as you said earlier, the music festivals, if we could be in the Netherlands where they have a lot music festivals it will be unbelievable. I mean, they have more music and outdoor music festivals in the Netherlands over this summer period, I think anywhere else.”
Just lastly, beer is the main beverage we’ve talked about but can it do other ones? Ciders, soda water, post-mix soft-drink?
BS: “In essence, it’s a beverage dispenser. We have done Nitro Coffees, cold coffees, Kombucha tea, ciders, we’ve poured Guinness very successfully, pilseners, IPA’s, lagers, obviously soda waters and things like that are not a problem. We’ve done our own pre-mixes as well, so vodka tonics, vodka lime and soda, gin and tonics, we’ve poured very successfully out of premix and keg. So, the only thing that we need to do quite a bit of testing on is the type of carbonated soft drinks because they’re very high in sugar.
“We know that the system will pour it, it’s just ensuring that our piping and valves and things like that are sturdy enough to manage it, but the system is a beverage dispensing system for cold beverages at this stage. In the US, they’ve asked us to start investigating hot beverages specifically around coffee, that’s a development we’ll look into. But because we’re a tech company ostensibly, we can easily get caught up in constant development. So we’ve also got to make a call at some stage to get live, pour beers, pour premixes, pour ciders and get the base system operating. Once that’s in place, we can then spin off little developments into other areas. Another thing, we can white label our app, we can white label the hub, we don’t have to be IntelliCup. We can be a stadium app, we can be a buy-a-beer button in a stadium app.
“We own the patent and another reason for going to Australia is we’ve got the patent there. It was one of the first countries we were awarded the patent after South Africa. We’re very adaptable into how the system operates, how it pours, how the data is measured and delivered and into future beverage dispensing types, but our focus is getting it live with what we’ve got right now.”