Startup Stories: Sylvain Bellaiche of Digital Social Retail

Sylvain Bellaïche is the founder and CEO of Digital Social Retail, a company that has developed software that allows customers to simultaneously manage push notifications for Wi-Fi signage on any mobile device. The brand’s platform also offers a personalized, geolocated and real-time advertising platform that is used by several leading brands.

Tell us about your company’s beginnings. What did you see (or not see) in the market that led you to launch?

Historically, we developed multiple software technologies for web marketing over the course of more than 10 years. Our goal was to enhance our customers’ websites to incorporate tools that would allow them to “connect” better with their web users, and to provide dedicated and more valuable information and products and a better user experience when those users visited the sites.

During the first decade of the 21st century, applying these technologies was not possible. In 2014, however, Apple invented the protocol iBeacon with Bluetooth. People now had a connected smartphone and Bluetooth became popular. We understood that the technology was now ready to be applied in the physical world. Our objective is the 360° convergence between the web and the real world.

Initially, we were focused merely on enhancing the connection between websites and people. Today, however, we are expanding our goals to encompass a wide range of applications—including construction, retail, universities, industries, security, and entertainment.

What were some of the biggest challenges that your team faced at zero stage?

We spent a lot of time proposing a very easy-to-use platform, which required no technical knowledge on the users’ part. All the technical complexities are transparent from the standpoint of our customers and smartphone users.

Also, with a technology such as ours, people aren’t comfortable purchasing until they have a good understanding of the product and platform. This takes time. We needed to figure out the best ways to educate our prospects so that they are comfortable making a purchase.

Let’s look at the science behind your product. What makes it different from other offerings in this space?

What’s great about our Digital Social Retail beacon and signage management platform is that we have the whole package. With our beacon connector technology, we offer businesses the ability to create a unique customer experience by customizing their message to show relevant information that viewers want to see. The most crucial part of this whole process is that the customers are receiving this unique message when and where it matters most, which is in the vicinity of the store location. With Digital Social Retail’s signage technology, businesses also have the ability to pull information from a customer’s phone and have a tailored message appear on the signage screen. This is done with our new widgets feature. With this feature, not only are you able to pull information from the user’s phone, you are able to play multiple forms of media at once such as the weather, news, live Waze traffic patterns, live T.V. and more.

How do you translate your brand’s message in a way that gets you heard above the noise?

The way we translate our message is by conveying the fact that it is more than just a product or service. We like to say that Digital Social Retail is a 360-degree portal for proximity marketing. It is a “360-degree” solution because we give businesses the hardware and the software and the ability to create completely customizable notifications. Our competitors are mainly focused on one aspect of proximity marketing, such as the hardware or software.

Let’s talk about brand values. What means the most to your company besides industry success?

Obviously, we want to be successful but what means most to us is how we do so. We want to be seen as the industry leaders in connecting people to the physical web using our hardware and software. We use our connectors and digital signage to create a connection between the patrons and the location sending the message. We want our brand to be recognized as the leading “connecting” brand.

There’s always been this rivalry between Silicon Valley and NYC in tech. What are some tangible benefits to being based in NYC?

One of the biggest benefits of being based in New York City is the opportunity for networking. The city is home to roughly three million working professionals and these men and women are all within convenient commuting distance to our office! Many of these professionals have worked at tech start-ups and it is always beneficial to speak with like-minded adults to learn from their journeys. Another great benefit of being based in New York is the number of trade shows that take place here. Marketing at trade shows is a great way to create brand awareness and to increase sales. With all the trade shows right here in the city, it makes it very affordable and convenient for us to reach a large group of prospects.

There are so many possible prospects within a very convenient radius. This allows us to get face time with potential prospects. Anytime you have the ability to speak about your product to a prospect in person, you increase your chance of a sale by building a relationship.

Name one place in your company’s NYC neighborhood that you and your team just can’t live without.

Café Hestia is a café that is located right outside of our office building. At least one of us gets lunch there every day. We visit Café Hestia so frequently because it is very convenient and offers a very wide variety of food options as well as serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Learn more about Digital Social Retail here.

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