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Heersink: “Good subsidy advisors know what they’re talking about. MK has these advisors on board.”

At MK Subsidy, our clients are at the core of what we do. Without their satisfaction, we wouldn’t be as successful. A couple of weeks ago, an interview with Laurens Steenhoven, one of our key consultants, was published. What wasn’t mentioned is that he also had a favorite project he’s worked on. The favorite project was TicTag, with Pieter Heersink representing the company. Steenhoven mentioned that he really appreciates the drive and the motivation of the entrepreneurs; their ambition to scale up is very high. To discover more about this impressive company, we decided to give Heersink a call. What follows is his story about how he founded the company and why it’s a special one. 

The development of the idea behind TicTag

Heersink: Me and my friend have founded our startup in 2014. Previously, I’ve worked as a consultant in the financial industry and I missed the creativity in my job. So one day, this friend came over and he said: “I have this great idea. It’s about customer loyalty in retail. I keep on asking myself: why isn’t there an app for all the loyalty programs that I’d want to become a part of?” Nowadays, you have to carry around all sorts of loyalty cards and if you want to get points on that card, you have to scan its QR code. The QR codes are problematic, since people can easily get loyalty points for free (they can copy the QR code) and because of this gap in the market, we invented the first stamp

The product

Heersink: This is everybody’s unique fingerprint – if you present this at a shop, you cannot copy it. The principle behind it is multi-touch. Every smartphone can read five fingerprints at once and we make use of this functionality. By capturing the fingerprints with a software, we can identify the fingerprint and the shop associated with it. When we founded this stamp, we were triggered: this could be a new invention – by presenting this stamp, you can open a door lock, for instance. This reflects itself in the trends we see around us – everything’s on your phone and the apps understand what you love – your identity is captured inside the phone. If you want to identify yourself to a door lock or a car, if you need to make a payment, you need all sorts of cards. But you just want to carry your smartphone around and leave all the cards at home.

Our technology works by itself, you just need to hold your smartphone against the stamp that’s integrated in the door lock to show that you (your smartphone) wants to get through this door (stamp). Alternatively, by integrating the stamp into a POS terminal, you can capture the data about your purchase by touching the stamp.

What I really want to stress is that TicTag is based on a very human technology. People understand that if you want to make a connection, you need to touch something. That’s the psychology that is behind our technology. We don’t believe in sensors that capture personal data without letting the user know. People need to be in control of their identity and data.

The now and the future

Heersink: Currently, the 1.0 stamp is used by our retail partners. We have a lot of attention in the retail industry (proof of presence), because we prove that people are at a certain location or a product. At the same time, we can also store information about the product you touch. As our technology develops, we could possibly enter into other markets, such as Automotive and Finance. And ideally, in 10 years time, TicTag will be the standard gate-way to connectivity. If you want to make an online connection in the offline world, we hope that it’ll be normal to touch the device/product to set it up. Eventually, at some point, it’ll be important to get help from a corporate. We can’t do this alone. Eventually, if we show that it works and that people love it, then we’ll get the support from bigger corporations.

We have a one-of-a-kind product

Heersink: We identify objects, locations, etc. We don’t identify people. Facial recognition is not a competitor – we identify objects and shops to show that you’re at a certain location. QR technology, beacons and GPS are competitors. One competitor is in South Korea and one is in US – they have created a product that is usable only in retail and in this way, we have competitive advantage. We have a sticker that is integratable into other objects and it’s fully autonomous and passive. We have the same product, but better

Women, come work for TicTag!

Heersink: Currently, the team comprises of five people. I founded this company together with two co-founders; one software developer and a marketing and sales specialist. We get on really well! However, frustratingly enough, we only have men in thecompany currently and we really want women in the team. Our culture is very friendly: we support each other, we love to have a good lunch, laugh and a drink together. It’s very important for us to have a good lunch together in an open space, because it’s then when we get to have some good conversations. 

MK Subsidy + TicTag = win-win

Heersink: At the time I contacted MK, it was difficult to contact investors. I needed to apply for subsidies – currently, I’m making use of WBSO and other subsidies. In this phase, it’s worthwhile to look at the subsidy possibilities that are there. We can do it alone but it’ll cost a lot of time and we don’t know the nitty gritty things about subsidies. Subsidy advisors have a lot of expertise and that’s why we asked MK for help.

Also, compared to other subsidy providers, at MK, the consultants are reasonable. You need a good subsidy advisor who knows what they’re talking about – and I think that MK has these advisors on board. 

Do you also have a project that you’d like to upscale like TicTag did with our help? Fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you shortly. Alternatively, contact us here. And we promise you that with our dedication to success, your project will be granted one or more of the wanted subsidies. Don’t be shy, share what you’re up to, like Pieter Heersink did!

Do you want to ask Marketa, the author of this article, any questions or do you have any remarks? Contact me here and/or reach out to me on LinkedIn!

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