How startup LoLo made the hard decision to pivot from rewards to gifts

This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece. Want to join the conversation? We invite you to write for us. Learn how to share your voice here.

AVLToday has partnered with HATCH AVL, an Asheville non-profit entrepreneurial ecosystem to help share stories of local startups and founders, called HATCHtoday.

We wanted to get a look inside of some Asheville’s most well-known startups, how they came to be, what they do, and what keeps them up at night.

So, we asked. And, we’ll be publishing a different startup profile every month. 

Today, we’re featuring LoLo, a platform that sends digital gift certificates, sourced from local independent businesses. They allow businesses to enroll their clients’ automated gift campaigns that are meaningful and measurable.

Here’s an Q&A with Clark Harris, co-founder

What makes your business different from others in the market?

LoLo sends digital gift certificates to local businesses, not corporate chains.

What big problem does your business solve?

LoLo makes it easy to stay engaged with a large network of clients.

Year founded?

2013

Who are your clients/consumers?

LoLo is currently focused on independent Real Estate companies and growing in other verticals.

How have you funded your growth to date?

Seed Funding

Who are you co-founders + how did they meet?

Clark Harris and Matthew Simpson. Clark and Matthew met at Wake Forest University.

What is a stat/fact about your business you want to share that will help the audience understand who you are?

LoLo grew from 1 client to 10 clients in 2017.

What are you proudest of? 

The constant positive feedback we get from our small business vendor-partners. We don’t charge any fees, so this is a free marketing program for them. We drive them quality customers who have fun taking advantages of their gifts. We take pride in taking care of the local small businesses as they are what makes our company unique.

Describe a time when you were sure you were about to fail. Did it happen?

The future of LoLo Rewards was uncertain and we were running out of options. That’s when a friend, Patrick Johnson, put us in touch with the Marketing Director of Beverly Hanks and Associates, Michael Phelan. It was during that meeting that we spotted that we could serve by making some slight tweaks to our platform and leveraging our knowledge of the small business community.

Why did your biz choose Asheville?

LoLo’s mission is to support the local small business community. What better place to do that than Asheville?

 What’s your next milestone?

Reaching Profitability

What has been your best business decision?

Making the pivot from LoLo Rewards to LoLo Gifts. It was a hard decision, but at the end of the day we were never going to be profitable with the rewards program, so we had to shut it down.

We’re now 100% focused on LoLo Gifts, which allows us to reach a wider network while serving our mission.

What, if anything, keeps you up at night? 

My 7-month-old baby girl, Ferrin.

Read more about LoLo on their website here. 

Other HATCHtoday features: