Observa

Crowd-sourced retail display auditing that pays

Raising $700,000
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Observa  collects data, pictures, and video around the US in real time, allowing brands to make necessary changes right away - and best of all, anyone can earn cash rewards from performing audits.

With dozens of brands on board and over 10,000 on-demand auditors in place, it’s time to straighten out America’s shelves for good!

Space is precious within the walls of America’s retail stores and supermarkets. Both sides of the equation - the brand and the retailer - put a great deal of effort into doing what they can to maximize sales.  Things like fancy secondary displays, eye-level shelves, and end caps are in place to help merchandisers get the most out of their slotting (product placement) agreements.

But with so much space to navigate and so many powerhouse brands occupying shelves, small and mid-sized brands often get a raw deal. According to reliable studies (and our own observations), stores only comply with their merchandising commitments about 40% of the time.  Merchandisers go to great lengths to set up attractive arrangements and deals for their products, only to see the stores not honor them. This led to an estimated $230 billion in wasted in-store promotions and tons of negative ROI. A few key reasons why in-store promotion is so unreliable:

  • Pricing is often wrong, different than expected, and not reflecting promotions;
  • Stores don’t use the displays that merchandisers send;
  • Stores don’t keep shelves stocked with the proper items;
  • Brands lose shelf space when they can’t see what’s happening;
  • It’s tough for brands (especially small ones) to get “boots on the ground” and do checks.

This, coupled with the fact that only around 51% of merchandisers engage in some sort of retail auditing, points to a massive opportunity.  An improved auditing solution that’s more practical and friendly to all size brands is badly needed on the retail front.

Pricing, availability, special displays, and even information on competitors can be viewed in real time to ensure stores are honoring slotting and promotional agreements.  At long last, brands of all sizes can use our data to fix display issues, make additional key business decisions, and ultimately drive sales growth in the competitive consumer goods marketplace.

The Observa platform leverages the best elements of the crowdsourcing economy to create a standout solution.  It collects in-store observations across all 50 states by alerting our rapidly growing crowd of “Observers” to auditing opportunities near them.  From there, Observers can simply pop into the store, perform the necessary checks, and earn instant cash.  Within five years, we envision millions of everyday consumers using our app to make quick, easy money on the go around the world!

Much like many of today’s most popular apps, Observa delivers value to two different groups of users.  Our customers, who are generally consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and brands, tell us what they would like to measure in their audits - while the Observers actually perform the audits.  Let’s dig a little deeper into each step of this simple process:


Create audit- Customers tell Observa what they want to measure and where, and a campaign is created.

 


Notify crowd - Observers are notified of auditing opportunities based on their location and reputation.

 


Visit and observe- Observers visit the locations, make general observations, and collect unbiased data by snapping photos and asking questions.

 

Validation - This crowd-sourced data is validated by the Observa platform, at which point we report back to the customer in real-time so actions can be taken and decisions can be made.

From here, we distinguish ourselves by promptly paying our Observers in cash into their PayPal accounts - often within an hour of an Observation being submitted.  We treat our Observers well - and their growing population is the true key to our success.

Our ambition is to grow Observa into the most widely used, most trusted platform for observing and measuring facts and data in the real world.  This vision includes not only the retail sector, but multiple sectors around the globe - including both public and private entities that need to make quick, reliable observations for various purposes.  Think about an accounting firm: compliance is everything, and a couple times a year, they’re forced to dive into CPG businesses to perform audits.  Having our Observers in place to check on sales and inventory would be a huge resource-saver for these firms, and firms in similar industries.

Ever since we released our first Android app in November 2015 (and the subsequent iOS app in January 2016), the arrow’s been pointing up for Observa. We’ve made a number of key technical improvements to the platform since then - and now have it at a market-ready state with several patent applications filed. Our sole focus at the current time is on acquiring more users and customers.  We recently launched a Crowdfunder campaign to help achieve this, and are now broadening our reach with Fundable.

Check out a few more top accomplishments we’ve enjoyed along the way:

Cash is rolling in.  We’ve racked up over $75,000 in sales to date, with 53% of it coming on a recurring basis.  Revenue has been generated from all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico.

Users are loving us.  The Observa platform currently boasts more than 10,000 users, a figure that’s growing rapidly based on geographic need.  Another key metric, paid observations, is also steadily growing.

Building an impressive customer list.  Dozens of well-known retail brand customers are on board with us, including Kona Brewing Co. and Yumbutter.

Our family’s growing.  The Observa team currently boasts 11 employees all pulling towards one vision.  This number is expected to grow again very soon.

Key partnership nearly in place.  We’re deep in talks with one of the nation’s largest accounting firms regarding a partnership deal - which could open the door for tons of new business.

As was hinted at earlier, observing and analyzing retail merchandising for the CPG industry is just the first of many promising verticals for Observa.  Other companies and governments can also use Observa to monitor and analyze data about geographically dispersed facilities, infrastructure, operations, projects, and a variety of other areas of business.  Penetrating these secondary markets is the primary focus of our future development plan.  Here are some of the main ones we currently have our eyes on:

  • Franchisee operations;
  • Hotel and restaurant chain locations;
  • Rental fleets;
  • Construction projects;
  • And more!

It’s time to meet the trio of executives tasked with leading Observa towards its ultimate vision!

Hugh Holman, CEO/Co-Founder - Before being half of the visionary duo behind Observa, Hugh served as Director of Strategic Initiatives for Savers, the world’s largest chain of for-profit thrift stores.  Earlier roles included a stint as EVP/Chief Strategy Officer for Aqua Star, a Seattle-based global seafood company.  He currently holds Board seats with Rad Power Bikes and the Alliance for Pioneer Square, in addition to his duties with Observa.  As CEO, Hugh oversees day-to-day operations while crafting our corporate culture and business development strategy.

Erik Chelstad, CTO/Co-Founder - Erik’s a proven entrepreneurial visionary who’s been with multiple startups all the way to IPO.  Before teaming up with Hugh, he engaged in numerous high-level business activities - including profitably merging acquired technology companies and creating digital marketplaces.  As the Senior Engineering Manager at Isilon Systems, he built out an engineering team on the way to a $108 million dollar IPO.  His versatile engineering prowess was put on display in developing the initial Observa platform, and continues to be as he oversees all things technical.

Paul Swegle, General Counsel - A focus on using the law to create, protect, and build value has made Paul a valuable business asset throughout his career.  He’s helped companies thrive in a variety of sectors, including ecommerce, social media marketing, fintech, medical devices, natural resources, and even the gig marketplace.  Formerly with the SEC and Department of Justice, Paul has financed and overseen M&A deals totaling $11 billion.

Want to learn more about Observa and what they’re creating investor value?  Make sure to request access to the Business Plan tab of this profile to find out how you can get involved!

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