Why I started Caddle
Why I started Caddle
For seven years, I worked in Marketing and Sales at SC Johnson and we had one simple but critical pain point: we didn’t understand our consumers as well as we needed to.
In the digital age, brand loyalty is low, the competition fierce and ad-blocking technology is booming . The CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) industry is cutthroat. We were constantly struggling to keep up with a fickle customer base and win the race to get the next best innovation on the shelves.
In this environment, you need fresh and fast market insights to ensure your brand survives in today’s CPG landscape, but we had no way of getting those with shrinking budgets and archaic, bloated insights providers. Sourcing intelligence from multinational market research firms or focus groups wasn’t an option. Because it took time to gather, compile and publish the data in traditional market research reports, it was often dated and fragmented. Focus groups are expensive and time-consuming to organize and manage. We needed insights within days of spotting an opportunity, not months. By the time we got those insights, the opportunity had passed.
A Better Way
I knew there had to be a better way, and that there was a need for businesses to have recent, up-to-the-minute data on their potential and current customers at an affordable price. My first thought was to build a mobile app that would reward consumers for their engagement with cash back on the products they’re interested in.
Consumers would answer surveys to identify brands they wanted to connect with. In return, brands would get to engage directly with consumers.
‘Imagine having hundreds of thousands of consumers at our fingertips,’ I thought to myself. ‘Instead of using dated or US research, we could have direct access to our consumer to get the insights that would drive our brands.’
At SC Johnson, this would have cost me five (maybe even six) figures and months to get the research.
I spent the next two years thinking about my idea. Eventually, my wife (my girlfriend at the time) gave me a clear ultimatum: “You need to do it or you need to shut up.”
That was enough motivation for me. I gave myself a deadline of May 1, 2015 to make it happen or move on. Two weeks prior to my deadline, I watched an inspiring documentary about (the late) Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the founders of Apple. Watching that film about two pioneers who grew what would become a multi-billion dollar company out of their garage was exciting and inspiring. I thought, ‘I want to do this, but I need a sign.’
A few days before my deadline, I attended a training seminar in Chicago for SC Johnson (my employer at the time). During my flight back from Chicago to Buffalo, I discovered, The Woz was on my flight! I instantly recognized him from the documentary. But one thing was missing: there was no Apple watch on his wrist.
As we checked our bags through security, I seized a window of opportunity and tapped Mr. Wozniak on the shoulder to tell him my story. In reply, he said, “I don’t need to understand it. The fact is, you have the passion to do it. It’s not whether it fails or not. It’s going to be that you’re glad you did it and failed rather than the regret of not doing it at all.”
This was the ‘sign’ I’d been waiting for! Steve’s encouragement during that impromptu chat inspired me to sell some investment properties and hire Symetric, a local web and graphic design agency, to build the Caddle app.
From there, things took off. I quit my job at SC Johnson and launched Caddle in 2015. We attracted customers such as PepsiCo, Mars, and General Mills.
An appearance on the popular CBC series Dragons’ Den resulted in four out of five dragons making a $125,000 investment in the company for 28 percent equity in the business (off-screen, we rejected the deal, and instead raised capital on more favourable terms with friends and family). Mick Higgins, our chief marketing officer, describes us as “ad blocking kryptonite.”
People listened to and believed in our pitch, and the market conditions continue to validate it. Thanks to our partners and the consumers who continue to support us, we engage everyone from millennial moms to tech evangelists, sports enthusiasts, and more – much faster than any old school focus group.
We launched and continue to grow our team in St. Catharines. Today, we have a team of 20 employees and a massive user base enabling brands to get the insights they need faster than any other platform.