Crowdsourcing Innovation: Konstantinos Kakousis, Founder of QRccino

Crowdfunding sites are offering a new path for inventors with original ideas. We talk to inventors looking to gain the public’s favour.

Crowdfunding sites are offering a new path for inventors with original ideas. We talk to inventors looking to gain the public’s favour with something new to offer. Is this a business of the future?


[image_library_tag 1d502001-0245-4c2f-954e-73b1b963dd3e 150x150 alt="qrccino-costas-idg" title="qrccino-costas-idg" width="150" height="150"class="left "] Name: Konstantinos Kakousis

 Job title: Founder of QRccino

 Organisation: QRccino team

 Location: Limassol, Cyprus

 

 

Product: QRccino

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What it does & how it works:

QRccino revolutionizes the way owners of cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels organize their discount programs. It combines the power of smart objects and QR codes.

QRccino aims to attract more visitors by engaging a new form of communication between the owners and their guests, replacing old-style coupons and cards with a smart device that is easy to use, cheap, and looks good! It is wireless, requires minimal installation and takes very little space on any surface!

It works together with an online menu management system where owners can easily create beautiful e-menus, composed of high quality images and detailed descriptions. The web application also enables owners to assign an unlimited number of special offers that depend on the number and the frequency of customer’s visits. Owners shall print a unique, auto-generated QR code for their menus and place it on the device.

Each time one of these devices is scanned, guests will be prompted with the e-menu while in the background, our web service will check if the person who scanned the device is entitled to a discount, and if so, it will instruct QRccino to change its smooth lighting to a different colour, one that is unique to each offer, thus acting as a distinctive signal for both the customer and the staff.

What makes it special:

QRccino is one of the very first complete solutions to introduce the so-called “Internet of Things” to public places such as cafes, bars and restaurants. Despite its technological advances, QRccino has been developed with the business needs in mind. We’ve spent lot of time and effort in evaluating alternative designs and possible solutions for the electronics until we came up with something that is small, wireless, functional, beautiful, with high battery autonomy and does not interfere with already installed systems such as POS.

What’s your background, and what inspired you to come up with the idea?

I have been doing applied research on big European, software-related projects for the last five years while at the same time working as a freelance web developer.

My academic background combined with hands-on experience in commercial software have put me in a position where I can identify possible applications of state-of-the-art technologies in commercial environments. During my academic career I had focused most of my research activities on how smart devices can interact, and adapt, to their physical environment, and QRccino is one of these devices.

As any software engineer that respects himself, I appreciate quality coffee and if it comes at reduced price, even better. So while at the desk of a global specialty coffee, patiently waiting for the lady to tear my paper coupon card with a strange tool I thought that there must be a better way of doing this! This how the QRccino idea was born.  After a year or so we’ve managed to bring QRccino to life. I believe QRccino is a perfect example of how smart devices can be of real use in commercial environments and how novel marketing ideas can attract more customers.

Why Indiegogo?

After reviewing most of the popular crowdfunding sites we decided to go with Indiegogo mainly because it was the most popular site accepting international campaigns. We thought the bigger the audience the better the chances to find investors. This is partially true since publishing your campaign in such a big website, with a huge variety of projects from all over the world, you must have a good promotional plan in order to distinguish it from hundreds of great projects.

Is Crowdfunding good for innovation? How so?

Crowdfunding is a tempting opportunity for individuals or start-ups like us who seek initial funds to make their dreams a reality. It can actually be an exciting experience and there are great examples of over-funded innovative project ideas. However, unless you have a super cool product that can sell to the masses, simply posting your campaign to a crowdfunding site will never be enough. Things are getting too competitive and there are companies spending huge amounts on their crowdfunding promotions. We too often focus on successful crowdfunding stories and tend to overlook so many great ideas that have not reached their goal, not necessarily because the did something wrong, but maybe because they didn’t have enough resources to promote their campaigns. So although Crowdfunding is a great way of funding your ideas, it is not suited for everyone.

But it is not just about funding! Crowdfunding offers you a great opportunity to promote your idea to a big audience and get constructive feedback from like-minded individuals or potential investors. This means that you can get a good estimation of how valid your idea is and how likely is to make it to the market without spending the extra cost of developing the final product first.

Reactions on IGG so far?

Although we haven’t yet received the Perks that we are expecting, we have already been contacted by interested companies willing to learn more about QRccino. We are confident that most of them will finally decide to make the difference and install QRccino in their establishments. In the meantime Indiegogo is helping us spread the word and collect feedback from interested parties.

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What have been the biggest challenges in developing the Qccino?

Funding is always a big challenge for startups and individuals. Working on a project idea without sufficient funds probably means that you won't have a second chance, so you should either make it a success from the first try or you should at least fail early. This imposes extra stress and a need to fully believe in what you are doing and stay motivated and positive until the very last moment.

On your Indiegogo page you said you’ve installed the Qrccino in a friend’s business. How has the trial gone so far?

It is going pretty well, actually! Installing QRccino for the first time was a big success. New visitors are always curious about the object and they are positively surprised when they scan the device and get a discount (the cafe owner has set a discount policy to give 10% discount to all visitors scanning for the first time). We have already noticed an increment on the number of visits and the frequency of returning customers but we need to evaluate the results in the long term in order to be able to extract more accurate results.

QR Codes have been around for a while now, and although increasing, their use has been slow to take off. Why do you think the QR code revolution has been so slow, and what are you doing/will you do to help speed it up?

Although QR codes have been around since 1994, it is estimated that as of August 2012 only 50% of smartphone users have scanned a QR code. On one hand this is due to the fact that smartphones only recently started to support QR scanning applications and on the other hand QR codes have been wrongly promoted by marketeers as a magic code that can increase sales just by putting it on an advertisement or a t-shirt. People won’t scan something that looks like a barcode just for fun or out of curiosity, there must be a reason or a reward. QRccino uses QR codes as a means of replacing coupon cards and as a quick link to the restaurant’s e-menu. Everyone likes discounts so it is much more likely to scan the code if they know that they will get a discount on their next visit.

Aims for the future?

After the encouraging feedback we have received from our first installation we are now setting up for another two local installations. We also hope to see QRccino succeeding in the Crowdfunding platforms so we can raise the funds needed for moving on to mass production. Until that day we will continue to improve the product and optimize the QRccino web application.