News & Analysis

Startups Posse and Beat the Q merge to catapult growth

- October 28, 2014 3 MIN READ

Posse and Beat the Q have today announced a merger that will assist in companies’ growth trajectory. Together, the startups want to create the “Uber or Airbnb of shopping”. Posse and Beat the Q both have strong traction; collectively, they will have 500,000 users, 56,000 shop relationships and handle over 400,000 transactions per month.

Adam Theobald and Scott Player launched Beat the Q in 2011 after an experiencing injustice at a Jack Johnson concert. Perhaps, injustice is a strong word, but the co-founders were certainly distraught when they lined up for food at the concert and waited 45 minutes to reach the front, only to find a group of girls sneakily pushing their way forward and positioning themselves at the front of the line. Theobald decided to confront the girls, and asked them to move back a few spots. They agreed.

When the co-founders got to the front of the line again, Theobald ordered 25 chicken burgers and sold them at a premium to those who were waiting behind the girls. “It was a comical moment. But what I learned was that people hate waiting and are prepared to pay for convenience,” he told Startup Daily in a previous interview.

Named literally, Beat the Q has since become a fast growing mobile ordering platform for time-poor and chronically impatient café-goers, who can make orders and payments within 10 seconds through the app and pick up their coffees and croissants when ready. Beat the Q is currently being used by more than 450 cafes, as well as 65,000 consumers in Australia, with the average user transacting 10 times a month. In February this year, the startup acquired eCoffeeCard which consolidates coffee loyalty cards in one location, and had a reach of 1,600 cafes and 320,000 users in Australia at the time of acquisition.

Posse, on the other hand, is a well-funded startup launched by Rebekah Campbell in 2010. The company has raised $4.5 million to date, and has undergone a major pivot. Initially, it started off as a platform for musicians to reward dedicated fans who promoted their shows via social media. In 2012, the startup relaunched with a focus on the retail market. Today, Posse is an online shopping network allowing users to create virtual streets of their favourite places to eat, drink, and shop, and share these collections with their friends and other people with similar tastes. Shop owners can see who’s recommending them, build relationships with customers and find new customers using the platform.

The startup is signing up over 1,000 merchants per week from all over the world and has developed a scalable network of shop owners and shoppers who communicate with each other through the platform. Of the 56,000 shops on Posse, 15,000 are based in Asia.

Posse and Beat The Q have collectively raised $5 million to date. The companies have been backed by prominent investors and tech luminaries including Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Tai; Lars Rasmussen, lead Facebook engineer and Co-Founder of Google Maps; partner at Greylock Partners and former eBay executive Simon Rothman; Greg Wilkinson, Founder of Reckon Software; Alex Harvey, global head of principal investments at Macquarie Group; and James Spencely, Founder of Vocus Communications.

In the merged business, Campbell and Theobald will fulfil the role of co-CEOs, an arrangement not that out of the ordinary in modern Australian startup culture – with Atlassian and Scriptrock being classic examples.

At first glance, the merger may appear unusual, but on further reflection, it becomes apparent that the companies complement each other and will grow fast as a whole. In a media release, Campbell explained, “Posse is all about finding new venues whereas Beat the Q is about transacting at those venues, so the synergies are enormous.”

The merged company is evaluating partnership and acquisition opportunities as the market consolidates. Theobald said, “Consumers and shop owners are being bombarded with retail-related apps from coffee ordering to loyalty programs to bar tab apps.”

“We believe consumers and merchants want one app that can do it all and that’s part of the vision behind this merger.”

As such, the merged company will unveil a new product within weeks which incorporates “the best of all three apps” (Posse, Beat the Q and e-Coffee Card).

Campbell said the goal was to create “the Uber or Airbnb of shopping”. While many businesses are using “the Uber for [insert industry]” as a tagline, in the case of Posse and Beat the Q, there is good reason for its usage. Campbell explained that the success of platforms like Uber and Airbnb was in large part because they help people develop relationships as well as transact.

“Using AirBNB is a very different experience to something like the ‘Stayz’ website – you get to see who owns the place, communicate with them and build a relationship,” she said.

“Our vision is to bring the same connection to shopping. We bring shop owners and shoppers together. We’ll facilitate a seamless ordering and payment experience and we help the people on both sides of the transaction get to know each other through private messaging, recommendations, loyalty and rewards.”