CEO Angus Davis Ramps Up Swipely, Takes On Payment & Marketing Industries

12/18/12Follow @gthuang

Hello, Rhode Island. For the smallest state in the Union, you have a disproportionate share of interesting companies and entrepreneurs. One of them is Swipely, led by founder and CEO Angus Davis.

The Providence, RI-based startup is releasing new software today that helps local restaurants and stores understand and manage customer relationships, as well as track sales performance and trends in real-time. Swipely also has a new partnership with American Express that it says helps merchants accept AmEx in a simpler way and get paid more quickly (in one day, instead of several or more).

“We replace the traditional credit-card processing companies. When Swipely wins, those industry stalwarts, they lose,” Davis says. “We’re eating their lunch.”

And it’s an awfully big lunch, at least in theory. There are more than 1,000 electronic-payment processing companies raking in about $70 billion a year in the U.S., says Davis (pictured below). The opportunity, as he explains, lies in processing those payments more efficiently while also providing useful services to merchants.

Swipely’s story has the usual twists and turns as the startup worked to find its target market. The company started in 2009 as a social shopping service, but then moved into payments, customer loyalty programs, and marketing analytics for businesses. Its service is based on information from credit-card purchases. In the past six months, Davis says, Swipely has “taken the ability to accept payments, and transformed that into analytics.”

The company’s new software and its visual interface (which runs on tablets and other devices) allows businesses to do things like profile customers based on their spending behavior—ranking them in terms of how much they spend, how often they visit the store, and so forth. The technology also gives managers a heat-map hourly view of how their business is doing. Davis compares the system to “Google Analytics for neighborhood restaurants.”

As Davis admits, this all sounds a bit like the Holy Grail of local marketing: understanding customers better to drive sales. And it’s a crowded and ultra-competitive field—companies and services like Square, LevelUp, Cartera Commerce, Linkable Networks, and Privy come to mind … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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  • http://www.buzzfarmers.com/ @amaaanda

    Providence is where it’s at in terms of cool start-ups, y’heard? :) Angus is genuinely dedicated to helping small businesses compete against big box stores, and is doing a fine job with Swipely. Providence is especially all about shopping local, so it was a wonderful city to start in!

  • http://twitter.com/SeattleMcCarthy Kevin McCarthy

    I’d say the “usual twists and turns” for a startup do not include raising $8 million dollars, then completely changing what the company is doing after it was a total failure.

    Best of luck, but this company is only in business still because of the gigantic sum of money they raised.