An ambitious ecommerce deal and coupon aggregation site, Sh8pe, plans to list on the LSE within 6 to 9 months, according to a recent company press release.
The release states that Sh8pe has signed a letter of intent with Corporate Finance advisory firm Thorpe Beeston Investments Ltd to begin the necessary legal and accounting work for an LSE listing, and appointed Certified Financial Analyst Brian Connell, a Senior Managing Director at Street Content, to draft a prospectus to be submitted to the UK Listing Authority for approval.
As well as having 20 years’ experience within the securities industry, Mr Connell is also the founder of StreetFusion, a software company serving the investment community, acquired first by CCBN, and subsequently by Reuters.
Sh8pe say they are developing a disruptive digital platform that “radically alters the way digital offers are being consumed by smartphone users from around the world”, aggregating and curating more than 100,000 digital web and mobile offers, via two distinct but integrated services as well as “developing an eco-system that rewards those same users for their loyalty via cash and loyalty points.”
The platform’s core offering comes in the form of 2 integrated “sister” platforms; MobPower and Sh8pe Rewards.
MobPower is the leading offering, working with its customers, otherwise known as “power affiliates”, to help them earn cash and rewards for completing tasks or shopping online.
MobPower’s “clean and uncluttered” Android interface presents users with a range of digital offers to choose from, “on a platter”.
MobPower’s users can convert both paid and cashless transactions into a source of revenue, with the app providing access to anything from ecommerce transactions to free mobile app downloads, games, promotional videos and surveys, via its network of curated deals.
Sh8pe Rewards provides users with exclusive discounts and coupons previously only available to high achieving affiliate marketers. Affiliate commission is collated by the platform from all users and then pooled and distributed to members each month.
Having been developed as a cross-platform shopping application, SH8PE say that online shopping is made “easy and handy”, with both a web presence and an iOS and Android app, all under the Sh8pe brand name.
By diverting their online purchases via the Sh8pe platform, users can earn commission.
The platform has been designed to cope with rapid scaling, and Sh8pe say they are partnering with global brands such as Google, Walmart, iTunes and eBay, amongst others.
The company say that they have “merchant and digital offer representation in 196 countries around the world.” Users can refer friends to earn a lifetime 5% override.
Registration takes less than a minute the company say, merchants can be categorised by shopping interest, and products searched for by brand name or keyword.
Moving straight from beta to a stock exchange listing sounds like a challenging path for a fast growth tech startup to take, but Sh8pe say that “core operations and digital footprint have grown at an impressive pace”, even while major parts of the service remain unlaunched, and that they expect the core distributor base to “grow to well over 100,000 within the next 12 months.”
A Public listing, the firm says, “will provide Sh8pe with “the credibility and financial strength it needs to manage its growth and expand its product offerings.”
Sh8pe sounds like a daily deals arbitrage play, and to succeed, it will doubtless need large scale customer buy-in. It will be fascinating to see whether such an early listing, and on London’s main market rather than the junior AIM market which is more typically associated with speculative SME businesses, will give the company the exposure it needs to gain the required traction.
On the aggregation side, the robustness of the platform when subjected to heavy usage will be key.
There’s no doubt daily deal sites can make money, but they can also go out of fashion quickly – remember Groupon?
The company successfully reached $760m in revenues and IPO’d in 2011, raising around $700m.
The stock price quickly tumbled however, as the business model failed to stand up to closer scrutiny; shares had lost 87% of their IPO price value by the end of 2015, before co-founder Eric Lefkovsky was replaced by Rich Williams, an ex-Amazon executive, who transformed the company’s fortunes, focusing on key markets and deal categories, such as home goods, jewellery, apparel and healthcare.
The company began to significantly outperform analysts’ expectations and in 2016 Alibaba purchased around 33 million shares, which drove the price of shares up by over 40% in a single day.
Doubtless, Sh8pe would settle for a similar rollercoaster ride.