Feature Friday is now back in action MTL Blog fans. This week the feature is on SpotOnSale a start up made up of 4 young Montreal guys. You may have already seen the MTL Blog contest tab about them and this article is fitting enough to get to know them and the product on a more personal level.
In chronological order appearing in the photos above is the team over at SpotOnSale.
Vincent Trinidad: He is one of those people who is passionate about most things he ventures into. Entrepreneurship is one of his main loves.he co-founded Studio 108 Design, a small creative agency based out of Montreal. He now works full time at SpotOnSale as Chief Executive Officer.
Simon Rainville: People say he is a sponge when it comes to technology and all that encompasses it. His extensive knowledge and background in 3D rendering, programming and graphic design land him as the Director of Development and Partner at SpotOnSale.
Rodney Lorica: An obsession with typography, photography and clean overall design is part of the reason why his dream of owning his own agency came to life when he co-founded Studio 108 Design with Vincent, holding the role of Art Director. He now holds this same title at SpotOnSale.
Ramon Aquino: Was hired in the early stages of SOS and quickly became part of the family. His main role of Director of Web Services has been essential. His vast background in programming has led him far in his career prior to SpotOnSale.
Now with a brief background on the guys let the FEATURE FRIDAY begin!
MTL Blog: When and how did the idea come about for the app?
Vincent: The idea first came about when I used to send pictures to Rodney about DVDs on sale at places at Best Buy and Future Shop purely for the heck of it. At that time, Groupon and Living Social just started up and didn’t offer us anything interesting, nor did any conventional flyers. We would go to these stores every other day just to find deals on electronics or anything at all that we thought was worth mentioning or a great deal to share. After a while I asked myself if there was some sort of app that would help find deals around me. Obviously, there was none. I mentioned the idea to Rodney and Simon and automatically fell in love with it.
Rodney: We really thought that there was going to be an app that could give us all the features we wanted because of our obsession of finding locals deals on DVDs. It just wasn’t there: we needed something that could let us quickly take a picture of a good sale and send it to our friends.
MTL Blog: The app game is not an easy world to break into, what sets SpotOnSale apart from the others?
Simon: What really sets us apart from others similar to us (few and far between), SpotOnSale is a community based local deals app and web service. Whereas, other apps or websites are focusing primarily on offering coupons. We rather find locals deals that are usually not advertized. There are great daily deals out there to be found, in any area of the city but you can’t be at two places at once. So, with our app your friends are working with you to find the deals out there.
Ramon: SOS isn’t just about finding deals that are 90% off. It’s about finding deals that your friend might find interesting and enjoy. If I knew that Simon was looking for a shirt and I was walking around downtown and saw a shirt he might like, well I’ll go ahead and “Spot It”. It might be 30% off or even 10% off, but the point is that I found something he probably wouldn’t have found.
Vincent: And that’s the core of our app, it’s all about making it relevant to each user. Also, from a store’s standpoint, our concept is to get them exposure on a local scale. Our goal is to help local businesses and make their deals relevant for people who feel it is relevant. We consider it a partnership with the community.
MTL Blog: How much has the original idea of the app changed from start to finish?
Vincent: The vision for SpotOnSale has always been and will continue to be about finding and sharing local deals: items that you feel are a "good deal" likely will be the same for someone else, especially among your own friends. This is the core idea and what we pair every effort to. Everything we do always begins with the question: "does this facilitate or enhance the capacity for our users to find and share deals?" It's always been about the user experience and how to improve the overall appeal.
Ramon: What does change is how we go about doing this. Things change so fast on the internet, it's easy to just get lost in all the things that are going on. On any given day, Facebook can change this, Google may do that, Twitter might do another thing and another company might come up with something brilliant. It's part of the territory and we roll with it. What will not change is the goal and our commitment to finding the easiest, fastest and simplest way for our users to do so.
MTL Blog: Is there anything about SpotOnSale you liked but had to drop off along the way because of complications or restrictions?
Simon: In any project, especially as a developer, you always feel like there's something you can improve on. It's only natural and maybe even more so when you're a compulsive perfectionist. We always try to determine what isn't a priority and what can wait or what can be shelved for another project altogether. As much as possible we want to keep the app relevant and up to date while still fitting within a certain budget and so far it's worked for us. As long as we stick to the goal, short or long-term, it always ends well.
Ramon: In the end, though, we never drop anything. As a team, we've always kept our ideas on hold if we feel it isn't fitting the right timeline. We always try to balance out fixes versus improvements and although an idea may not be worked on, it just might be later on. We never have bad ideas or wild ideas that won't see the light of day. With a great team like this, we have the creativity, vision, expertise and drive to really crunch out ideas and grind them out into a polished product. We never say "no", just "not for now."
Vincent: In any case, this project doesn't have finish line. It constantly evolves. We always look to the horizon and say "let's see what we can do to get there." It's the only way to stay on top.
MTL Blog: Would you say that living in Montreal, a big city, gave you an edge in the tech industry? How do you feel it has impacted you?
Ramon: It's hard to say how it would have panned out anywhere else. It's certainly difficult to account for the mixed demographics in Montreal: we have two great languages and many different ethnicities that blend to make this a very complex and very unique place to live in. So many different backgrounds and so many different lives can happen on such a small island: it's really quite amazing.
Vincent: On the other hand it is a challenge to be able to appeal to all of these different social components of Montreal. Yet, we also know that it's a great place to start because we're so familiar with this city: a city full of vibrant, intelligent, internet savvy and socially active people is not only a great place to cultivate minds and creativity but also to cultivate a project that brings these people together. That's not to say we don't intend to branch out beyond the island. We just feel our roots are important to us and we feel that as disconnected as these demographic groups may be, the web usually finds a way to connect them.
Rodney: To us, we find the creating core users in Montreal is key to our success.
MTL Blog: Although SpotOnSale is fairly new and you must be putting most of your time directly into promoting the app and website, so are there any ideas swirling around for big changes and updates to the app?
Vincent: Yes, we most definitely are putting a lot of our efforts in promoting the app and website, but we’re always trying to look two steps ahead. What can we do to keep users interested? How can we make the process and integrate other social networks even more seamless? What and how can we offer to users and merchants alike a better solution to the whole shopping experience? So, yes, there are plenty of ideas that in the works to constantly make our app better in every aspect.
Rodney: It’s all about timing really, we’re working with local businesses to try and give our users the best that Montreal can offer. Our “Launch Sweepstakes” is just the tip of the iceberg to what we’re trying to do to keep giving back to our users.
Simon: We don’t want to divulge too much but the next few months are going to be very big in every part of SpotOnSale. We’re very excited.
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