On 18th June I received a Facebook message from the founder of SPLATcard.com, Tom Smith. SPLAT, which stands for “Students Pay Less AT [SplatCard.com],” is a natural progression from Tom’s current business, CovLife.co.uk. CovLife is a StudentBeans style site with printable discount/offer vouchers for Coventry University students.
Tom was actually looking to discuss a potential relationship between the SPLAT card and SmarterHousing, although due to the obvious overlaps with the SmarterCard it was my intention to discuss a possible joint venture. In terms of the initial enquiry, there was very little I would have been able to do given SmarterHousing is the only agency offering zero fees, providing students with free wireless broadband and supplying accommodation inclusive of all bills, so it’s just as well Tom was open to discussion.
By the time we actually met, Tom was aware of the SmarterCard so our discussions quickly progressed into the possibility of working together. I have to give credit here, I thought the branding of the SPLAT card was perfect for the student discount card market.
My plans for the SmarterCard involve the student market initially. There is no reason why consumers in the corporate world shouldn’t follow, with a mass market card a possibility in 3-5 years. SPLAT stands for “Students Pay Less AT” leading to the rather obvious proposal of a 50:50 venture, offering the SPLAT card to students and the SmarterCard to corporate workers and the mass market.
It isn’t easy launching a business; less so when there’s competition. With this in mind I thought a joint venture was an appealing prospect, and an equal equity split rather generous on my behalf given the resources Tom and I would be bringing to the table. At the time of meeting it was fair to say the SmarterCard was better established in Leamington Spa, where as there were more offers on the SPLAT card for Coventry and Earlsdon. However, drawing on group resources I could also offer a physical HQ, office space, a top notch web developer, designer and administration/support staff.
When I started in business I wouldn’t have given equity for blood or money, however I’ve come to realise you can’t do everything alone and sometimes equity is the best way to incentivise important team member. I had a suspicion giving away 50% would be too far from the ideal for Tom to proceed with the SPLAT card – SmarterCard joint venture, and this may well be the case: I’ve not heard from Tom since we met.