On behalf of Swipii, I write this letter to you all as we face the unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19. Just like many of you, my family, friends, and colleagues have been separated from loved ones and are adapting to a new way of life. None of us will remain unaffected by the coming weeks, some more than others. My thoughts and the team's go out to you all. Whilst these are challenging times, these won’t be the last for many of us. Inertia must be avoided, impactful actions prioritised and learnings saved for next time.
Every day when I go online, I am amazed and uplifted by so many acts of courage and kindness that I see from people around the world and on our doorstep. As a founder in Scotland, I can only aspire to play my part with our team at Swipii. And to all the founders out there, our job is a lonely path at the best of times and even more so during times like these. When each day is another step into the unknown, it’s hard to maintain a sense of perspective, to know how to feel, act or lead. Mark Logan, one of our board members, once told me:
“In such times, I’ve always found it helpful to imagine that I am looking back on now, from five years’ hence. Will I have acted now as my future self would have wished me to? Will I be proud of myself in what I remember, when I look back? Was I supportive to others, honest, generous? Then, each day, I try to live that way.”
So with that in mind, we take action and lead by example for our future selves. At Swipii, we’ve changed the way we work in an immediate response to COVID-19 with three goals:
Here is a list of actions we have taken to achieve our three goals:
Suspending all invoicing to support our local businesses
Our core passion is supporting local businesses and the communities they are in. At the beginning of March, we had almost 100 businesses on the app from Glasgow and further afield. Many of these businesses have closed for the next few months, and many have started running on a delivery-only basis.Whatever decision businesses have made, we’ve chosen to suspend all charges over this difficult time, while supporting them in any way we can in the meantime. This means that when they’re ready to reopen their doors, we can get right to offering cashback and supporting them to bounce back as fast as possible.
Paying out all pending cashback to our consumers immediately
We understand that during these difficult times, every one of us will want to make the most of every penny immediately.Therefore, we have self-funded the cashback owed for March to all of our consumers on behalf of local businesses and have written off their invoices as mentioned above.
Turning your cashback into donations
On March 20th, we introduced a simple way to allow folks with cashback in their Swipii balances to donate that cashback to Social Bite. We wanted this out ASAP, so a basic email and Google Forms did the job as an MVP! (Minimum Viable Product). So far, 100s of pounds have been donated and on the back of that success we have committed to build it in-app and make it 10 times easier to donate (the email and form combo was a bit clunky).Some of you may have already received the update, here is what it looks like:
Social Bite themselves have been truly awesome, repurposing their entire business so that they can not only help those who are homeless in the city, but also those in food poverty, families who were relying on free school meals, and those who have lost their jobs as a result of the crisis. The cashback donations that are being donated will go towards creating 3000 food packages per day, with hygiene products, toiletries and basic medicines included.
Retaining our team and continuing to build
At Swipii, we’re making sure we get through this difficult period together. We are grateful to have received funding from our existing investors recently, which will go some way in supporting the team and ensuring business continuity. However, COVID-19 was not part of the plan, so like all startups, we’ve had to adapt. Everyone at our company plays an absolutely crucial role, and we’re going to need everybody when consumers and businesses return. Some members of the team will be winding down over the next three months, recharging and preparing for the return. A core group of Swipii staff will be continually improving on the app and working on some more long-term plans which will see us aim for growth in the latter part of the year.We have all made financial sacrifices at Swipii, including our partners and myself. I’d like to thank everyone for playing their part, specifically the Swipii team, which has demonstrated unrivalled commitment, hard work and composure during these testing times; if not for them, we would not be here.
We believe we will be a fantastic tool for local businesses and for consumers to save money on our return. Businesses will need all the help they can get during the recovery period, and consumers will be very price conscious. We’ll be here! We are an optimistic bunch and know we will get out of this together, there is light at the end of the tunnel for everyone. Be safe, and help others.
Louis Schena & team