INNOVATION INSIGHTS: Why Hey You went from a coffee app to trying to make wallets a thing of the past

This post is part of the Innovation Insights series, sponsored by CommBank. At CommBank we believe innovation starts by asking questions. Discover new ways to keep your business moving. Start today at
Photo: Hey You/ Facebook.

A new business can go through many iterations.

From increasing or even reducing the product range to changing a marketing strategy, or incorporating customer feedback to sharpen service, those changes are steps towards forming a more successful and sustainable organisation. Innovating and adapting helps you transform from startup to big business.

This is a process Hey You founders, Adam Theobald and Rebekah Campbell know all too well.

Hey You is an app which links to your credit card and helps you find nearby restaurants, order coffee and food — even get it delivered — without having to wait in a line or pull out your wallet.

Despite now being a highly successful app, it started life as a different business – different businesses, actually – entirely.

In October 2014, online shopping and loyalty companies Posse and Beat the Q merged in the hope that working together would give them a better chance of creating a startup “unicorn” ($1 billion company).

While they were two different businesses, the founders had a single vision to facilitate relationships between shop owners and customers, and remove transaction “friction” from ordering to payment.

The newly merged business spent the next few months building on top on the existing Beat the Q product, which included features from both company’s assets. By March it acquired loyalty app e-Coffee Card and in August the company rebranded as Hey You, having closed a $5 million funding round and attracted some top Silicon Valley angel investment.

Many thought that wasn’t the right time for for the brand to reinvent itself, just as it looked like the app had started to find its groove. Signage was being taped up in cafes around Sydney. If you listened out, you could hear people say they’d order on Beat the Q, or see the app on someone’s phone on the train before their stop.

At the time co-founder Rebekah Campbell explained it would be a step change, with a fresh vision to become more than just an order-ahead app.

“Beat the Q is kind of a limiting name for an app which just does one thing,” she said.

Hey You app/ Instagram.

And so, Hey You was born.

Campbell wasn’t phased by the rebrand cost, telling Business Insider that it’s all part of the journey for an app of its kind.

“As a startup you have to redesign your product or you become stale,” she said.

As of January, the business had grown 400% to 65,000 transactions a week — that translates as one coffee ordered every second between 8am and 10am every weekday.

The convergence of the businesses has also allowed Hey You to explore partnerships it did not have had the capabilities for previously, including a deal with Uber that enables customers to order the ridesharing service directly via the Hey You platform.

The app was also recently serving the VIP area of the Australian Open, allowing spectators to order food and drinks, not only saving time, but also meaning they didn’t have to leave their seats.

Campbell says this is just the start.

Along with testing ways it can start to deliver products, Hey You is also trialling the app in pubs, so you can order a beer from your seat without lining up at the bar.

“At a pub you sit in the beer garden and someone has to go and stand in a line for 20 minutes to order food and drink, get a buzzer and come back to the table,” Campbell says.

“So we have started enabling ordering from tables in pubs, so you can sit at the table, order what you want and get a message on your phone when it’s ready.”

The first pub it’s been trialled in is The Exchange in the inner-Sydney suburb of Balmain. Many more coming soon across Sydney and Melbourne.

Hey You founders Adam Theobald and Rebekah Campbell. Photo: supplied.

This evolution has always been Campbell’s goal — creating a holistic app that would dominate a segmented market.

“People really only want to have one app to find great places, to look at the menus, order, pay, get your loyalty, perhaps give feedback, access promotions and get stuff delivered,” she said.

“People want that app to provide a great experience and work everywhere.

“We realised someone was going to own that market at some stage, so we thought we may as well have a crack at doing it because we already had three businesses doing different types of the experience… a lot of customers, and a lot of merchants.”

And it’s not just about providing a great product for its customers. Hey You is also helping merchants using the app, especially as a customer management system.

“The merchants see us as a tool to run their business. The merchants can see who their customers are, they can contact their customers, they can run promotions, clear stock, get data insight,” she said.

The tool also empowers smaller businesses to compete with giants of retail market.

“Woolworths and Coles have access to an incredible data set of what people are ordering, what products are trending, what they should be charging for different product, while the little guys have no access to anything like that. But because we have a network we can give the little coffee shop owner these tools… which is really valuable to be competitive.”

But overall Campbell is most excited about the idea of walletless living.

“Tap and go has been a pretty nice experience in the interim but people don’t actually want to carry a wallet. They just want to carry their phone,” she said.

“We’re becoming a mobile payment society, whether that be paying at the till or paying away from the till.

“The feeling when you use Uber is awesome. Imagine having that kind of experience with everything you do.”

NOW WATCH: Ideas videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.