Sunday, April 21, 2024

Trendy app-approach to business


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G​regory Hughes is the head of a young small business that he expects to do big things. Interact With Us Inc. was registered in October 2007 and for the last seven years, unknown to most Barbadians, the company has worked on the development of a special mobile app.

The company officially commenced operations in February, and that first app, called Freeforme, has already gained international recognition.

Hughes explained that Freeforme allows businesses in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean to “affordably market their products and services to their desired target segments of the market”.

“We have developed an app which is of such a quality that it has passed Apple’s stringent conformity tests for their Appstore, as well as Android’s Playstore,” the chief executive officer said proudly.

“Interact With Us Inc. currently employs nine people, with an aim of addressing the need for immediate and measurable advertising our clients in the Eastern Caribbean, as their business cards and other traditional marketing pieces were becoming less effective on their own.

“This grew into us being asked to host advertising for other businesses. We wanted to show that Barbados is more than just a one-trick pony, that we are innovative and creative. There is a lot that our people can do,” he said.

A number of Barbadian businesses – large and small – have been struggling to survive in the current recession, but Hughes was confident the attention Interact With Us Inc was paying to information technology, especially the burgeoning smartphone market, would be a boost.

“With the current uptake of mobile smart devices in the hands of an ever increasing mass of people, we have experienced keen interest in our app throughout our territories and people are finding new uses for it that we did not even consider,” he said.

“Heading into 2015, our forecast predicts strong growth in both our user base, as well as our advertising sales. We have not done any considerable marketing or PR. We have taken an organic approach. As this is a newer medium for advertising and our app has so many features, our team is now focusing on illustrating the benefits that a person could derive from using the Freeforme app.

“In the fourth quarter we will be launching our 1Click2Talk app, which is aimed at the business sector almost exclusively, whereby we drive communication that links a person’s website contact on the pc with the phones of the customer and the business, all via our widget.

“This is already operational, but we are taking a phased approach, as this region can be a conservative market and the economies of scale lend to a particularly sensitive strategy and engagement,” he explained.

Hughes was not daunted by the fact that his company was still young and had entered a market now dominated by large international players.

He was confident that his organisation’s mobile app “has the technology to harness the vital marketing and advertising power that direct PUSH notifications offer to businesses of all sizes and industries in the Caribbean and Latin American region”.

“We are on the cusp of using our phones not only for chatting and entertainment, but also as a conduit for mobile marketing and infotainment, due to the increased bandwidths and network capabilities. Consumers are finding it helpful to search for companies, while they consider purchase options,” he said.

“What if a hotel, restaurant, or any business, for that matter, used the app to market itself to locals, our Caribbean neighbours and international visitors by advertising various packages in an effort to boost awareness?

“This could have a positive impact on its bookings, revenue and return on investment.”

Speaking about the future, Hughes said that in addition to Barbados, Interact With Us Inc. already had operations in Grenada, St Lucia and Trinidad and that “expansion plans are under way for other Caribbean and Latin American territories” before year-end.




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