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Westport Man Starts Whodini To Help Merchants Know Their Customers

David Schachne of Westport has launched a business start-up that he hopes will revolutionize the way merchants service their customers.
David Schachne of Westport has launched a business start-up that he hopes will revolutionize the way merchants service their customers. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. -- A Westport resident has co-founded a new business that he hopes will change the way merchants service their customers.

David Schachne believes that if he and his partners are successful, the company can rekindle the merchant-customer relationship that existed back in the day when the owner of the local general sore knew their customers’ name, needs and preferences as they entered the store.

The company, aptly named Whodini for its’ apparently magical ability to know “who” has entered a store and help a merchant recognize a customer by face, has designed a knowledge, marketing and loyalty platform.

Utilizing distinct mobile apps for the merchant and the customer that communicate with each other using a beacon, the technology enables merchants to ask customers specific questions for the sole purpose of improving the in-store experience.

The consumer receives incentives for answering questions.  "We view our model somewhat like a social networking tool for merchants and customers, similar to LinkedIn enabling professionals to communicate with each other and Facebook enabling friends and family to communicate and share experiences,'' Schachne said.

Schachne said it all sounds logical.  Why shouldn’t consumers have the ability to build a stronger relationship with their favorite neighborhood businesses?

“The customer can have a direct channel to the merchant to voice feedback, versus having to post comments on a third party review site.  Business owners we have spoken with want to hear this actionable feedback, but not necessarily have it posted to the world,” said Schachne, further explaining how the service will work  “it should take a few minutes to set it up.  No integration with current hardware equipment will be required, regardless of the point-of-sale system a merchant utilizes.  Merchants will provide a reasonable incentive, such as a 10 percent first-time discount, in order to reward the customer for downloading the app.  The customer will then enter their email address, snap a selfie and receive their reward.  Beyond the first use, the customer can begin to answer other questions about themselves to earn additional incentives.  The merchant decides which questions to ask.  The process is 100 percent opt-in and customers only answer questions they want to answer.”

The Whodini app is free for consumers.  Interestingly, the founders are also planning on making it free for merchants, through sponsorships from large companies that service and supply local merchants.

The company recently began a pilot test in Westport.  Schachne has recruited a good mix of restaurants and hopes to soon be opening up an office in the Westport area.

He is starting to hire and the company recently completed an angel round of financing from a host of investors with experience at firms including Alibaba, IBM, Intel and HP.

If merchants are interested in participating in the test, they can contact the company at www.whodini.net. If consumers would like to try Whodini during the test, they simply need to go to the Google Play store or iTunes store and download the “Whodini – Magical Discounts” app.

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