Educating Businesses to achieve Strategic Goals

Angelique Uy, CO-Founder at ZAP Group Inc.

She has always been a leader, from organizing weekly catechism classes for the marginalized sector to promoting local music through events, Angelique has headed a team of online marketers for a B2B e-commerce site in the US. The team managed to increase their site’s leads by 200% within 8 months, and continued its growth through A/B testing and Analytics crunching.

A graduate from Ateneo De Manila University with a degree in management minoring in economics, Angelique says that most of the people from this background pursue banking or finance but she didn’t want to choose that. Instead, she started working for a U.S. e-commerce company as a management trainee, selling promotional products to business owners. In 5 years, she was exposed to the intricacies of selling online—from lead generation, website optimization, capturing customs behavior patterns and marketing to them again, etc. It was the latter that made her keen on starting ZAP in 2012.

ZAP is a loyalty and automated marketing platform for brick and mortar businesses. The team helps businesses increase customer retention, customer visit frequency and customer spending.

She always wondered how gathering shopping behaviors in the offline world could benefit retailers and shoppers in the long run—a smarter way to engage with end-users using shopping analytics. With ZAP, she was very excited to share her significant experience in tracking online customer behavior to our brick-and-mortar implementation of Google Analytics. She believes in educating business owners about who are their customers and what they care about to drive better products and services.

Here are some more insights from the Strategic Marketing Entrepreneur, shared with team ABT.

Who is your inspiration and why?
My mom inspires me every day. At 75 years old, although officially retired from being a teacher, she tutors kids to keep her busy and sharp. I learned the value of handwork and loving your craft from her. Imagine, she still remembers the names of her students from 30 years ago!
Aside from her, I would say our growing team of 40 is what keeps me going. I always think that we can’t fail because their lives and the lives of their families depend on us succeeding.

Tell us what led you to choose the path of entrepreneurship?
I’ve always seen myself as someone who’s not afraid to take huge risks. This paired with a very distinct vision of empowering merchants make better business decisions and empowering customers in choosing a rewarding lifestyle that works for them— sealed the deal for me in leaving the comforts of a corporate job. 
I think it requires a tremendous dose of self discipline in getting into entrepreneurship. You become your own boss and it’s tricky when you let that get to your head. Having business partners who are reliable and who share the vision is what will pull you through those moments of doubt and insecurities.

Tell us briefly about the journey of ZAP and its reach so far?
As mentioned, I started ZAP together with 3 other business partners back in 2012. We came together under one big idea of providing merchants with a more sustainable way of marketing to their customers aside from giving away discounts (this was during the height of deal sites e.g. Groupon).

We initially bootstrapped our way into our first product which was a rewards system wherein merchants issued rewards points that could be used at any ZAP partner establishment. This created a virtuous cycle of transactions and traffic: clients ping-ponged across industries, while the growing number of merchants created a network effect. For merchants, it was refreshing how they get to utilize customer behavior info and exclusively target them for tailor-fit promos. Think birthday celebrants, top spenders, or even non-returning customers – you can now strategize more scientifically to make your business boom better than before.

In 2015, we pivoted to a B2B approach to achieve bigger growths in revenue and overall rewards network. So far we have 470,000+ ZAP users earning/using rewards points called ZAP Cash Back at over 1000 stores in Manila, Philippines and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We’ve made merchants as high as 5000% ROI.

How did you manage to raise funds?
It’s not easy to raise funds in the Philippines. We started ZAP with own savings and money borrowed from family and close friends. In 2013, we raised our first round of seed funding from Kickstart Ventures, which is a Globe Telecom subsidiary. We finished the round in 2014 with Wavemaker, Seawood Capital and an angel investor onboard.

Being a women entrepreneur, do you feel privileged?
Being an entrepreneur itself is a privilege. Luckily, gender equality in Manila is quite strong mostly because we’re a matriarchal society. But to answer your question in a different light, I feel privileged to be able to help our clients make more money and more loyal customers.

Tell us about some of the challenges that you face & how do you overcome them?
The struggle is real—and constant. What’s great about ZAP is having business partners that you can go to war with. I’d like to think we are our own best allies and worst enemies. If I were to pick one challenge, it’s hiring. We have to constantly be in the lookout for the best developers, closing sales person, account managers, admin staff, etc. to be able to deliver the best product and services to our clients, at the same time, keeping the existing team morale up. We manage to do this by empowering our people and just doing the daily work of hearing them out and helping them reach their best potential as individuals.

What would you like to achieve in coming years?
We would like ZAP to be present in more countries simply because I firmly believe in our product and how it aids in doing smart business. We’re eyeing Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh and maybe Phnom Penh in the next year.