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How Putting Other Businesses First Helped One Startup Succeed

kokou adzo



Karen Kelly Tapple

We talked to Karen Kelly of Tapple about the first real-world conversion platform, and she had the following to say:-

What is your product?

Karen Kelly: Tapple is the data intelligence platform for QR codes. Our software leverages time, location, and audience inputs to drive personalized mobile experiences that are proven to convert, and no apps are needed.

Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Tapple.

Karen Kelly: After graduating from Williams College in 2001, I started my career as a J. Walter Thompson NYC advertising executive working on the business to consumer brand campaigns Domino’s Pizza to Rolex. In 2010, I launched one of Boston’s most profitable media studios from scratch, crafting the original “For Life” industry brand. I began speaking nationally at media conferences in 2013 and co-created three sold-out Boston workshops on Sales, Branding, and The Client Experience in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Through this business, I met one of Tapple’s founders and Chief Technology Officer, Dean Hantzis. Dean hired my company to create a branding campaign for his emerging startup, Tapple. As I learned more about the company, I loved his vision of instant physical to digital connections to drive immersive experiences. I formally joined Tapple as the Chief Marketing Officer when the product was publicly launched in July 2019.

How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?

Karen Kelly: Fortunately, our CTO has always had the perspective that our QR-based data intelligence platform should be highly flexible and suitable for a range of industries. This has allowed us to quickly innovate during Covid-19, realizing the product could double as both a live and virtual event engagement platform. Tools like ours were sorely needed as the world pivoted towards online events, and businesses lost the ability to connect with prospects in person. 

Additionally, we productized the Tapple Touchless Health Screener, a contactless, high-security mobile waiver for daily health attestations using core data capture components from the platform. Our Touchless Health Screener is now being used to help keep tens of thousands of workers safe across the country, from construction sites to corporate offices to film production sets.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Karen Kelly: Making the decision to devote time and resources to a Covid-related product was difficult for our team. We essentially had to choose between staying the course with our projected product development schedule for 2020 or constructing a completely new outlook on what the year would yield. Ultimately, we made the decision as an executive team that if we could help other businesses stay in business during the pandemic, we wanted to do it. Turns out, much of the product work we did to optimize the platform for the Touchless Health Screener – from additional intelligent features to security upgrades – will benefit businesses using the platform for any reason. 

How do you deal with stress and anxiety?

Karen Kelly: I’m mostly working from home these days, so I’m incredibly grateful for the ability to get up, stretch my legs, and find myself on a quiet walking trail anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed. I also try to meditate a few times a week, but I often fall short of that. Most people are facing a 2x or 3x increase in stress this year due to the changes in lifestyle as a result of the virus, so I’ve started scheduling short breaks a few times a day to breathe deeply or walk for ten minutes outside. 

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Karen Kelly: For us, the game is really just beginning. The rise of QR from a consumption standpoint has been a major benefit to our company. As brands look to engage consumers both virtually and in-person, we’re a tool that they can use to take a hybrid approach to gathering first-party data and driving conversions at the moment. Now with the impending loss of third-party data sources like web cookies in 2021, first-party data acquisition has never been more important.

As a company, we’re in the best position we’ve ever been in to succeed.

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Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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