CEO Helene Berkowitz of ReceetMe, an innovative e-receipt platform, tells her story.
Introduction & Biography
Helene is a Fintech executive, startup founder, and mother of 4 children. Her background is in global finance and international payment systems, having worked with teams in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East.
Helene founded ReceetMe, a Retail Tech startup that provides a mobile platform for digital receipts. ReceetMe aggregates all e-receipts onto 1 centralized, easily searchable system, optimizing the retail experience for both retail chains and customers.
Tell me about ReceetMe. What is your mission and vision?
The goal of ReceetMe is to eliminate paper receipts from the retail shopping experience of the consumer and the retailer via our entirely mobile platform (no emails or texts). With ReceetMe, when a consumer goes off to buy something at a store that is offline (brick and mortar), instead of getting a paper receipt they receive a notification on their phone that a transaction was made, regardless of the method of payment. Our vision entails both the environmental factor (reducing paper waste), and the convenience factor. We are all consumers, and we have all experienced the frustration of needing to return something to the store, and not being able to find that receipt lying around somewhere in our house. Our long-term vision is to become the leading provider of digital receipts for retail in North America and Europe.
What are the biggest challenges that you have encountered on the way?
The biggest struggle is getting people to understand how we’re different. Whenever I pitch ReceetMe, the first response is always, “Oh, well, digital receipts already exist.” This is precisely what pushes us to come up with creative answers to explain quickly and easily just how we stand out. Currently, our biggest obstacle is on-boarding our first retail customer–we need to ensure that they recognize that a very small team like us can aid them in their endeavors and accomplish whatever objectives they have.
What is your hope for ReceetMe in the future?
My goal for ReceetMe is that we will have a big seat at the table. Right now, in fact, lawmakers in California are attempting to pass a bill called “Skip The Slip,” or Bill 161, which is a piece of legislation that will require merchants in the state of California to establish digital receipts as the primary method of receipt confirmation, and that the use of paper remains solely upon request. Not only do we want to solve a problem, but we also want to stay at the forefront of what’s going on in retail technology.
How do you stand out from your competitors?
Our competition tends to be very one-sided. They basically access transaction records by means of some sort of API tool (like Visa or MasterCard), and so they have solved the problem, but only partially. In other words, our competition is not solving the problem in the smartest way possible. In fact, when I decided to transform this idea into a startup, I looked into existing solutions, and found that they were neither the most efficient, nor optimal methods. For example, there are stores right now (say, Old Navy), that will email you your receipt. However, from the consumer’s perspective, it doesn’t solve the problem enough because nobody wants more emails in their inbox. And if you happen to go to Old Navy a few weeks after your purchase in order to return that item, trying to locate that receipt becomes a big issue. So, coming back to the one-sidedness factor, email receipts only solves the problem of paper, but not the efficiency and optimization part.
So how do we standout? Well, there are two parts of the equation. The first is that we include cash transactions while most of our competitors ignore cash. As someone who comes from a Fintech background, it’s ironic for me to say that us Fintech-types love to count how cashless society is–but it’s not. Cash is still a huge source of primary payment solutions for a substantial quantity of the population, and our competitors only focus on credit/debit.
The second thing that makes us standout is our aggregated system–let’s break this terminology down. If you are a WhatsApp user, you know that your conversations are automatically organized so that your most recent conversations are the first ones that you see. It’s a super simple interface, and it’s very easy to navigate in WhatsApp and find something. We are essentially mimicking this format. So, for example, whatever you purchased 5 minutes ago will pop up first in your ReceetMe platform, which makes it super easy to pull-up your transaction records. And going back to recording cash transactions, not only is this great for the consumer, but for the retailer–we then provide them with a big missing piece of data that they don’t currently have, which is identifying their cash-paying customers. This data is important to retailers.
In the beginning, our original thought was that with ReceetMe, we would be saving retailers money by not having to purchase paper, ink cartridges, etc. However, after numerous conversations with those in the industry, the retailers explained to us that companies like Target, Walmart, etc., they don’t really care about saving even a couple million dollars per year. What they do care about is optimizing the retail experience in order to acquire those repeat customers, and customers who are not loyalty card members, and get them back into the store. With cash-paying customers, there’s no way to identify these individuals because cash is not traceable. However, if we can connect retailers to our system, then this allows them to identify their cash-paying customers and engage with them.
Have you ever considered integrating cryptocurrency transactions as part of your platform?
As someone who comes from a Fintech background, I do believe that blockchain is a real game-changing technology; however, it has become somewhat of a “buzzword” recently. In fact, the terminology is overused so much so that, chances are, if I said the word “blockchain” I would probably get an eye-roll. On the other hand, the value in blockchain truly is tremendous, but at the stage society is currently at, we are not ready to pay with cryptocurrencies on a huge scale. It’s not like you can just walk into Target and buy ice cream with Bitcoin right now. I am more than open to the option, but as of now, we aren’t at that level or need to use it.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Don’t chase after the money. I wish that someone would have said this to me much earlier in the game. Instead of chasing after investors with an idea on paper I should have spent more time focusing on product development. The second piece of advice is that make sure your idea, whatever it is, is either something really innovative, or that your idea will solve the problem of doing something that already exists in a much better way.
What are you passionate about?
People talk about how difficult it is to be a female entrepreneur, but there is a smaller circle within that. For instance, those of us who have families. It’s almost like a secret that you are not supposed to admit. Sure, I can go pitch my idea somewhere tomorrow, but when it’s 6pm and you’ve got kids to tend to, it’s not so easy. I wish that this was more of a conversation rather than a hidden inner dialogue.