What is Affinity?
Affinity’s first product Shop.Play.Win uses celebrity-based incentives where fans are encouraged to join their favorite celebrities rewards program when that celebrity posts on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Once a fan joins and becomes a player, our proprietary Shopping Influencer products automatically influence players future shopping towards our participating retailers.
What’s your traction been like thus far?
We have launched 8 celebrities since Dec 2012 and we have 20,000+ monthly active players with 9,000+ active daily (on average). Around 1.5% of our 20,000 players make purchases daily with our 2,000+ retailers and our players have already spent $1.6M dollars with our partners. We have 5 more celebrity deals signed and launching in September and we have a large and growing deal pipeline. So far everyone we show the product to loves it!
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started Affinity?
I wish I would have known how important the social engagement side of our product would be in our pitches. I figured revenue alone would close the deal, but the tools we have created to increase fan participation is in several cases a bigger selling point to our partners. If I had known that I would have spent more time on that side of the product initially. Also I knew mobile was going to be substantial, but we get 50-60% of our traffic from mobile devices and we are only now offering a mobile solution.
What’s a hypothesis that you’ve had that has failed? And how did you respond?
Thankfully, I have been in this business for 10 years having started Zango in 1999 and helping it grow to $80M a year in annual revenue. Affinity is the perfect evolution of that business model and so far (knock on wood) every hypothesis (except the one noted above about the engagement stuff) has been on track.
What’s your favorite startup in Seattle? (Besides your own!)
Tough question: I love a lot of different companies based on their area of focus. Tagboard for social display, Bizible for sales analytics and OfferUp for social selling, Zealyst for real world networking! I could keep going on…New Car City, Big Door all the Techstars companies I work with!
What’s your favorite thing about being a startup in Seattle?
The start-up community hands-down. When Keith Smith of Big Door and I started our first company 180Solutions/Zango in 1999 we had very little exposure to other entrepreneurs and start-ups. There was no Poker2.0, no meet-ups, cigar events, etc. Over 50% of my business introductions, financing intros, etc. has come from friends within the Seattle start-up community. I would be substantially less successful without the help of this community and so I do everything I can to help other start-ups be successful as well!
What’s your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
Ideation! I love ideas and turning them into real world solutions. My own, others, doesn’t matter. Nothing is more fun and exciting then taking a idea from your mind and making it happen!
What does the future hold for your business?
At Zango we had 7% conversion rates and $4 life time values and we scaled from $3M – $80M in 5 years ranking as high as 7th on the Inc 500. At Affinity in our first year we are already at a 22+% conversion rate with lifetime values ranging from $12-$20 per active player per year. I know many companies that would greatly covet those metrics and my goal is to partner with those companies a growth!
What about your business most excites you?
I love the ever evolving online media landscape and having to continue to tweak and adjust our business to optimize our growth potential. Also forging new and exciting partnerships with the worlds more well known celebrities, athletes, musicians and brands is pretty cool as well.
What does the success look like for Affinity?
In my opinion a successful company is one that can reach profitability and then invest those profits into growing the business to whatever size makes the most sense.
How would you describe your company culture?
“I want every person in Seattle to want to work at Affinity and I will do whatever I need to make working at Affinity the most enviable job in Seattle. To do this we hire smart responsible people and allow them to do their job with clear communication, appropriate financial incentives and measurable performance goals. When we are not working we try to have plenty of fun with each other and our families!”
What’s your favorite local sports team?
If your company were an animal, what would it be and why?
Duckbill Platypus. We have a lot of moving parts that don’t always look like they fit together, but once you see how we work you realize that everything is in a specific place for a reason!
If you were to take Affinity on a date, where would it want to go?