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This tiny box is helping people discover things they didn't know about

Pointy has been quietly growing in recent months, and wants to get all Irish retailers on board.

Pointy co-founders Charles Bibby (left)  and Mark Cummins.
Pointy co-founders Charles Bibby (left) and Mark Cummins.
Image: Colm Mahady/Fennells

THE HARDEST PART about shopping locally for anything is discovery.

If you want to search for something specific, chances are you’ll get a result from a major retailer like Amazon when it’s likely a local shop has it. It’s harder for them to be on the map and for people to find them, but an Irish startup wants to fix that.

Pointy was founded in 2014 but only recently did it see its app launch on iOS and Android. While it had a soft launch in November, the app officially launched in March.

The service has more than 600 shops signed up to it. The majority of them are based in Dublin (more than 200 are based outside the capital) but according to its co-founder Charles Bibby, that was a deliberate choice.

“We focused on our on-the-ground sales effort [in Dublin] to prove the concept and get it working, but we are very much ready to expand to other places,” he said.

The service prides itself on two things. On the retailer’s side, it’s simplicity. All shops need is a small SIM-powered box the size of a matchbox. When they plug it into their bar code scanner, it gets the inventory of the shop without either side having to do any work. The only thing that needs to be entered in at the start is the shop’s name, opening hours and a telephone number.

Pointy The Pointy box is the size of a matchbox and uses a SIM to send info. Source: Pointy

Currently there are 170,000 products on the service, and Bibby claims that if a product isn’t there and it’s scanned, it only takes them up to five minutes to update the system with it.

The other part is discovery for customers. One of its aims was to allow people to discover new shops and products that they wouldn’t know about easily and if anything, the launch confirmed that there’s an appetite for it.

“We thought this was a very real problem, but having the app out for real just confirmed that,” he said. “We see all sorts of things and to be honest, it’s just nice to see that people are out looking for things”.

You have two sides to it. One thing is people discover things they didn’t know about before… but then also [discover] a shop near them that they didn’t know about.

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Pointy map
While it's keeping its growth steady, the aim is to have 1,000 shops in Dublin signed up by the end of the year. Currently, the app has 5,000 users on both iOS and Android but Bibby would like to have 10,000 within the next four to eight weeks, something he sees as achievable since the last three weeks saw the app being downloaded 900 times a week.

The focus is very much on Ireland for now, but the potential behind it means Bibby and the team have the possibility of expanding to other countries in the back of their mind.

That isn't going to happen just yet, however, there's still the small matter of establishing a foothold in other cities like Cork, Galway and Limerick as well as other parts of the country.

One of the reasons we're keen on the idea of Pointy is that it's a global problem, and can be bought anywhere but right now, we're focusing on Ireland. At some point in the not too distant future, we will go elsewhere but there's still more to be done here.

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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