St. John’s-based retail software company Oliver POS has won Propel’s Gerry Pond Sales Award for 2020.
Created last year to honour the chairman of Saint John technology company Mariner Partners, the award grants one member of Propel’s Incite II accelerator cohort $25,000 cash and an optional $30,000 of investment from Innovacorp and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.
Pond, who also heads the East Valley Ventures investment group, is an enthusiastic evangelist for the value of reliable sales pipelines. He helped found Propel and continues to sit on its board of directors.
Oliver POS gives bricks-and-mortar retail workers access to information about customers’ online shopping and browsing activity to help them sell more effectively.
“What we will use the money for is to support our employees in continuing our growth, as well as investing in more software-as-a-service tools to help us onboard more customers,” said CEO Mathias Nielsen in an interview, referring to the cash prize.
The company’s business model is to identify shoppers using information such as their email address—which they may provide to staff during the checkout process—and display information about their social media activity, advertisements they’ve viewed and tech-support requests they’ve filed, among other metrics.
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This information replicates what online retailers have access to, with the aim of allowing staff to suggest different or additional products that customers might want to buy.
“We’re bringing the online know-how into the physical point-of-sale,” said Nielsen.
More than 56 new merchants signed on last week alone, said Nielsen.
Oliver POS so far employs 22 people, and Nielsen hopes to increase that number to 42 by the end of this year. He’s also working on a substantial fundraising round that he aims to complete by August.
The company received the Pond award based on the recommendation of an independent committee comprised of local business people and startup specialists.
“This was not an easy decision,” EY Associate Director Chris Weir, one of the judges, said during the awards presentation. “In my own personal scoring, the difference between first and second place came down to fractions of numbers.”
The main criterion for the award, which is funded primarily by donations from local companies, was that its recipient developed a “repeatable and scalable sales model” while enrolled in Propel, with clear evidence of sales growth.
“We really appreciate this,” said Nielsen during the ceremony. “We’ll take a virtual beer with the team, later.”