In 2015, based on our experience working together in Europe and North America at a customer-centric analytics and consulting firm, we concluded that the grocery industry needed a new approach to promotions and building customer loyalty.
Mass promotions, in general, have a profitability problem. Personalized offers are incredibly difficult to scale without substantial investments in highly skilled people and infrastructure. Digital coupons, while more convenient than paper, are delivered within a tedious and uninspiring user experience. In this context, we saw advancements in technology, and with it, believed we could create a better way for grocers and brands to profitably grow sales and share of wallet. So, we left our jobs (big thanks to our wives) and began our journey as entrepreneurs.
Knowing the problems we wanted to solve, we also had a few guiding principles for how to solve them. The solution would be data driven, customer centric, and delivered as a SaaS solution. Two other design objectives were important to us based on our prior experiences. First, we strongly believed the path to success required a solution that removed barriers not only for key stakeholders within the retailer – marketing, merchandising, operations, digital & IT – but it also needed to work across the value chain to include suppliers and customers. It needed to create a win-win-win for the retailer, suppliers, and customers. Second, the solution had to be easy to implement, run and operate. Retail is hard work with lots of complexity and interdependencies. So, it was essential that our clients felt a true sense of relief when working with our software and our team.
If you’re wondering where the name Untie Nots came from, this is it – our mission to untangle what was, and still is, a very complex web of people, process, and technical infrastructure. The “K” in “Knots” was removed simply because with it, the name was impossible to pronounce for French speakers. As a Paris-based company, we quickly sacrificed the “K”.
The idea behind Challenges and the Untie Nots Platform eventually took shape after months of research and brainstorming. We hired our first data scientist and engineer to build a prototype and iterated from there until the solution was ready to be tested with a client. Our first proof of concept ran in France in early 2017. The results were amazing. A few months later, the client rolled out Challenges nationwide and a second French retailer launched their own proof of concept and achieved similar results.