Dulce Guarda of BBox Sports tells us about developing collectible sports items connected to Augmented Reality.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dulce Guarda: Everything is fine, Portugal has its ups and downs, but overall, COVID has not been too heavy on us. We, as a startup, have continued to work using online tools, so we can not complain.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded BBox Sports.
Dulce Guarda: My background is in marketing, so I worked for a few years in Advertising and started in the business with my first startup in 2013; along the way also created my own accessories brand. Later in 2018, I co-founded together with other two founders BBox Sports.
How does BBox Sports innovate?
Dulce Guarda: At BBox Sports, we bring together the physical world with digital innovation to it; we develop collectible sports items, the LADS, which are connected to Augmented Reality. Our LADS come to life using our BBox App. Our app allows us to collect consumer behavior data providing the user back with extra features such as smart and segmented content. To engage sports fans, we develop Augmented Reality content, so we can create new forms of communication between the fans and their sports teams, monetizing the fans in an efficient way.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Dulce Guarda: It actually didn’t affect us that much. Since we an online company, we kept on working and still communicate with our users. We still manage to close business opportunities with Nacional and International Sports Teams, so I guess the only thing that set us back was traveling prospects that we do when we need to present our project. But everyone was affected, so I guess that we all needed to understand that and find new ways to do business.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Dulce Guarda: Not until now. We are a pretty recent startup, so our team other than the core team is not that big. So, we still manage to keep everyone. Besides, we have an amazing team that has been with us from the very beginning, so we can count on them, and they can count on us.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Dulce Guarda: So we have two different clients: B2C and B2B. The B2C we nurture using our social media and our customer care service. Every shop is very important for us, we talk with every customer, and we communicate over email, social media, or online shop. We use Intercom and chats available. And we try to find a positive answer to every question.
For B2B, we rely on proximity contacts, networking, and of course, LinkedIn. We utilize every connection that we have to get references and leads on potential new clients. Also, participate in online events and webinars where we can showcase our project and try to understand their challenges before presenting any solution.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Dulce Guarda: No, we didn’t yet need to recur to grants, simply because we have a pretty small structure so far and also because we are recent on the market, so some of these grants are for bigger and already established companies. But we do have behind us an angel investor that has been very loyal to us, guiding us throughout our journey.
Your final thoughts?
Dulce Guarda: The world as we knew it has changed forever, and both companies and users need to find new ways to explore, to shop, and to engage with one another. But this is also a great moment for startups to grow and established themselves as part of the business eco-system. It’s an era where no matter if you are big or small, you can make a difference and show your potential. So, enjoy it the best way you can!