Greek mobile marketing defies crisis

John Doxaras' Warply wins Mobile Innovative Company 2015

John Doxaras, co-founder and CEO of Warply, has since 2012 become one of Greece’s most successful young entrepreneurs, taking his start-up idea to the next level.

“Increasing GDP and achieving surpluss cannot be delivered without the brain power we have left in Greece.”

His mobile marketing company, despite being born in the midst of the financial crisis, almost instantly received $500,000 funding from several sponsors, boosting its expansion to the United States, UK and Germany, with potential for growth in Latin America. What many don’t know is that, previous to his marketing accolades, Doxaras left a promising career in physics, working on the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.

“When I took the decision to drop my academic career I had the privilege to already be part of the CERN LHC simulation, condense matter group in Cavendish lab at Uni of Cambridge and have co-authored five papers,” Doxaras says.

“It was a tough decision, but I just wanted to work on problems that would impact millions of people’s daily routine.”

Greece is suffering its biggest ever brain-drain, which in John Doxaras’ opinion is the most catastrophic outcome events in the country during the last 40 days.

“We face the great danger of having to say goodbye to another 100-200 highly-skilled professionals until the end of 2015,” he stresses.

“This number adds to the 300,000 Greeks who have already left since 2009, the beginning of austerity.”

For Doxaras, increasing GDP and achieving surplus cannot be delivered without the brainpower left in the country. For that reason, John turned down several job offers and decided to return to Greece and contribute his bit to the country’s wounded economy.

Not only did he see Warply’s stocks skyrocket, but he managed to employ dozens of young entrepreneurs and creatives, who would otherwise seek challenging career opportunities beyond Greek borders.

His idea offers a cloud-based toolbox that enables brands, agencies and publishers to directly send interactive, contextually-relevant mobile marketing campaigns to their customers.

Brands can take control of their communication channel, directly talk to customers by sending marketing campaigns to their smartphones. Its mobile marketing toolbox powers up monetisation, loyalty and engagement.

“Using the power of rich push notification campaigns, brands allow their mobile users to purchase goods and services directly from their smartphones,” Doxaras adds.

“Coming so far has been a funny roller-coaster of mixed feelings, with several frustrations and great moments, but the bottom line is about creating value and winning your clients’ and partners’ trust.”

Warply, a fledgling pioneer in mobile marketing and CRM in Greece, expanded its premium ad network to sites and media from the Greek region, thus becoming the first premium mobile advertising network throughout Greece more than a year ago. The expansion of Warply’s ad network in the Greek region came as a response to the great demand of the advertising market and especially of the retail sector, given the impressive results from mobile campaigns with hyperlocal targeting.

Last month, the Warply team attended Mobile Excellence Awards 2015 in a glamorous ceremony, where the top influencers of the mobile marketing industry were present. The Greek team took several awards home, including one for the Most Mobile Innovative Company for 2015.

With a total of seven awards to be proud of, Warply made it amongst the top performers in mobile marketing, for its continuous effort to provide a fully integrated marketing automation platform and deliver engaging personalised mobile campaigns.

“The Mobile Innovation & Entrepreneurship Award for one of our most important achievements so far, our platform Warply Engage 2.0, is one of the achievements we are most proud of,” says Doxaras.

“The platform, utilising our know-how to the greatest degree, entails top-notch mobile marketing automation services, such as mobile coupons, location-based newsletters and push notifications on the website, providing totally captivating personalised campaigns.”

Furthermore, a more in depth segmentation could be achieved based on behavioural patterns. Its platform essentially uses push notifications to deliver targeted campaigns and audio, video and other interactive content directly to users. The platform allows for geographical and behavioural targeting to enable Warply customers to better personalise marketing campaigns.

“We know that we do business in a high growing and rather innovative field; mobile will disrupt all traditional industries,” he stresses.

“In that perspective awards are always welcome, especially when you are focusing on introducing massive scale and scale delivered through life-changing technologies.”

Meanwhile, consumers are developing an ever-closer relationship with their mobile devices, boosting the growth of mobile commerce at a rate triple that of online commerce. However, according to Doxaras, mobile’s true power for disruption comes with the in-store experiences.

“At the moment, 95 per cent of all retail commerce in the US is carried through the physical store, and there is mobile’s huge power,” Warply’s CEO tells Neos Kosmos.

“As offline technologies such as our credit/debit card or our loyalty cards continue to move towards our smartphones, mobile will become the cornerstone of every successful marketing and CRM activity.”

The Greek start-up ecosystem is, however, still in an early phase.

“We only recently had our first exits and there are some companies that have transformed into successful established businesses, where others have gone into the valley of product death,” he reflects.

“We are still lacking two main ingredients which, surprisingly enough, is not money.

“We are in desperate need of successful entrepreneurs with 1-2 exits behind them in order to properly mentor and finance new endeavours, and we definitely need a change of culture with a focus on scaling businesses, not just reaching profitability after two to three years of operation.”

Aside from the brain drain, the capital controls predicament affected the Greek market negatively, imposing an instant freeze of every commercial activity.
“One part of our business is the advertising media spend, which took a massive hit, resulting in a pause for all active campaigns,” Doxaras explains, estimating that said market will revive again in early 2016.

Every week that passed by with the banks closed resulted in a one per cent decrease of GDP for 2015.

If we want to see the glass half full, Doxaras points to an enforced adoption of debit cards and electronic payments, resulting into a quadrupling of e-payment acquiring business.

“Half a million new debit cards for Greek retail bank clients were issued,” he says.

“We estimate that this will have high impact in black money and transparency as well as in tax evasion.”

In a time when Greece’s most creative and promising sectors are able to boost the economy are taking fatal blows, certain young Greeks are challenging the finance world, proving there is hope.

WARPLY ADD THREE MORE SILVER AWARDS TO THEIR TROPHY COLLECTION:

Best Mobile Application for Commerce & Consumers Award in the category ‘Mobile Commerce for Supermarkets/ Retail Stores’ for AB Vasilopoulos mobile app (one of the biggest retailers in Greece).

Best Mobile Promotion Award for Notos Galleries Stores in Thessaloniki. The promotion ran in partnership with Mindshare media agency, via Warply Engage 2.0 – using geolocation, increasing brand hype and sales.

Best Mobile Rich Media Campaign Award for the Adidas Ultraboost interactive campaign implemented in partnership with Carat International media agency.

*For more information head to www.warp.ly