The innovators: Mobile Coupons and PC Service

By - Monday 27th February, 2017

In the second of a three-part series, two of Croydon’s groundbreaking companies explain what they do, how they do it, and why Croydon’s the place to be

Image by The Town That Love Built, used with permission.

Croydon has 10,000 businesses, a tech community that’s internationally recognised as a model for building a local tech ecosystem, and more offices and workspaces opening every week it seems. It’s easy to see how it’s become such an effective engine room for new ideas. From IT services and game design to road-safe headphone usage, Croydon companies are putting the borough on the map as a hub of innovation. Six companies at three of Croydon’s workspaces – TMRW, Sussex Innovation Centre, and StartUp Croydon – spoke to the Citizen about how they’re breaking the mould. Two of them are presented below:
Putting daily offers in customers’ pockets 

Image by, used with permission.

We make it easy for businesses to communicate their offers with their customers and friends without the need to download a mobile app, or give an email address or mobile phone number. We’re in advertising, we’re in marketing, we’re in mobile engagement.

How are you innovating?

In 2017, consumers are prepared to surrender their privacy to get services – but they don’t want to. If there’s a way for consumers to get the services they want without surrendering their privacy, that’s a good thing – we’re passionate about protecting the privacy of our users.

In the last 12 months, mobile wallets have exploded, the demand for coupons is huge, and we have combined these two technologies to provide a really simple solution to communicate offers on a daily basis: the coupon isn’t a separate app (which people don’t like downloading these days), it’s an item that slides into your Apple or Android wallet and sits there with your cards. No apps, no QR codes, just simple five-digit codes that anyone can type in, and no fuss.

A new innovation that we’ve recently implemented is called ‘Coupon Image Links’. Although images on Facebook do increase response, usually when you click on an image it just gets bigger. But we’ve created a technology that means that clicking on the image on Facebook downloads the coupon straight to your phone, on both iPhone and Android. Customers seeing coupons in their newsfeed will click on them and get them straight away.

Why Croydon?

The Home Office moving more operations to Croydon is a huge vote of confidence, as well as a major influx of customers for the town centre. Croydon is more cost effective in terms of rent than much of the rest of London, it has a young and trendy audience, and here [in Sussex Innovation Centre], we’re right next door to Croydon College. We’re in the centre of a tech ecosystem, so we can grow and expand as and when we’re ready to take on more local talent. I think that Croydon’s going to be bigger than Silicon Roundabout.

Moving out of King’s Cross was an easy decision. Many incubators in London offered great office space but not the support that we needed. We settled on Croydon, and Sussex Innovation Centre in particular, because they connect you with resources like designers, accountants, funding – everything that we’ve needed.

Via an introduction that we got from Sussex Innovation Centre, we got a loan from the Croydon Development Fund, designed to create employment in Croydon. As a result, we feel that it’s our mission to support Croydon SMEs that we know are struggling in today’s climate. There’s a vibrant ecosystem of businesses in Croydon, and we want to plug into it – we’re doing so by offering our services free of charge to all Croydon SMEs throughout 2017.

PC Service Ltd
IT support and house automation

Tom Breza, Founder of PC Service.
Photo by PC Service, used with permission.

What do you do?

We have a few specialities: the core of the business is outsourcing IT support for businesses, the other is house automation – in other words, ‘smart houses’, intelligent management of TV, lights and so on. Via state-of-the-art control systems, music and video can be seamlessly integrated in your house. We’re based in London but we’re an international company – we have a base in the Polish Silicon Valley, and we have access to an enormous pool of very skilled Polish IT people. We use that to help businesses in the UK to find new developers. Because of our position in the market, we have the ability to find the right talents, the best specialists in their fields, which has led to our recent expansion into developing websites.

How are you innovating?

In IT we try to stay on top of the latest trends, but IT as a business is quite traditional. Safety and stability come first, backed by innovation in finding new technologies. That’s what customers want and it’s what we provide. Where innovation really takes centre stage is with smart houses. If you have TV, Sky, Blu-ray and so on, you have five or six remote controls. We can replace them all with a single remote or even an iPad app. These systems are so easy that even a technophobe can, without any training, use them. All buttons and functions are presented in simple, understandable terms – you press ‘watch’ or ‘listen’ and all of the right connections are automatically switched on. And of course you can press ‘off’!

We’re installing this technology in homes around Croydon, and adopting new versions of it all the time. We are able to innovate thanks to our connections with developers. We can approach people individually, helping businesses in Croydon and the wider UK to find the people that they need for their software projects. Even fairly big businesses need skilled developers but don’t have access to them. We’re working to fill that gap in the market.

Why Croydon?

With a fast-moving business, you need to be somewhere with the right infrastructure. It’s easy to get in and out of Croydon, not just into London but also to anywhere in Europe! You’ve got easy links to Stansted, Luton, Gatwick and even Heathrow. It’s probably one of the best places in London to get to. Additionally, London had its own Silicon Valley in Old Street, but Old Street is dead. The rent skyrocketed and it got so high that it doesn’t make any financial sense to stay in Old Street now. People are looking for places that are well-connected and it doesn’t get better than Croydon.

Something specifically about CBV that put them head and shoulders above many serviced offices I had worked in: they are down to earth. They are extremely friendly, they look after you, and the charges are clear up front. They’ll even actively try to send business your way. At many places, you are one of many, nobody understands what you do or even cares. Here, it’s a completely different approach.

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The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen is a non-profit community news magazine for London's most populous borough.

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