GBC Entrepreneur Spotlight: Darren Sampson and Will Tennyson
Darren Sampson and Will Tennyson
Founders of Odds
Odds is sweeping across the GTA into restaurants big and small, with its modernized method of turning coupons into prizes. Through its game based mobile application, Odds is a fresh new twist in the mobile app space that goes against the grain of the take out, delivery and food pick up applications.
Odds was created by two Toronto based entrepreneurs, Will Tennyson and Darren Sampson. They are new to the scene and are expanding rapidly through growth and innovation. “We consider Odds to be much more than an application, we continue to push the envelope and develop new ways to Attract, Excite, Reward and Retain new and existing customers,” says Will Tennyson
The odds mobile application is simple and effective at attracting users to play. It builds on habitual behaviour and the gamification of the app truly differentiates it from all other marketing apps. Odds continually performs updates based on user and retailer feedback. “Bringing patrons into restaurants is the easy part, we are now heavily focused on client retention, through beacon technology, analytic reporting and social media integration,” says Darren Sampson. “We are building a strong and integrated community.”
Odds is currently expanding through the GTA and embarking on its nationwide presence.
We had the opportunity to ask Darren and Will a few questions!
What’s your educational background?
I obtained a 3 year diploma in Design & Advertising at George Brown St. James College. Then joined Seneca College’s Entrepreneur Incubator Program to acquire the fundamentals skill used to start up my own design, print and web company. Years later I ventured into finance and took courses at the Canadian Securities Institute, gaining valuable insight into company stock valuation, financial statements and corporate finance. I was an independent stock broker for several years raising capital for corporate ventures.
I completed my BA degree at the University of Guelph in 2015 and then went on to graduate from the Small Business Entrepreneurship postgraduate program at George Brown College in 2017.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
In high school a group of friends and I collaborated together and leased some land to start a small farm to earn money during the summer months. We tilled the soil, planted some seeds, and eventually grew the operation to 46 acres of organic produce production. It was incredibly hard physical work, but very gratifying. We derived our salary from the profits of the year end yield. I learned a lot during these years, hard work ethic, budgeting, teamwork, patience, grit and persistence. I’ve never really had a “Job” or been “employed”, that concept has no desire for me. The experience of working for myself at a young age set the path and shaped my mindset. The concept of reaping what I sew, (for better or worse) became a common thread in the underlying fabric of my entire work career.
I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and know that the amount of money I will make will reflect the hours of hard work I put in. When working for yourself, there are no salary caps. At the beginning you probably wont make much money at all, if any. It takes a lot of motivation to keep going and I’ve always been a very motivated person. Especially when it’s something you believe in.
Why did you create Odds?
I think all Entrepreneurs keep a constant eye out for big opportunities. The past 10 years has been a phenomenal decade of big opportunities to witness. The integration of web, mobile technology, commerce and virtual social interactions has revolutionized the ability to scale companies. One after another, entrepreneurs in this digital space, seem to have embraced their “big opportunity” and developed innovative business models to mind boggling evaluations, on what generally is a basic idea and algorithm. Will Tennyson introduced me to his idea of Odds as a mobile app when the concept and development was in its infancy. Right away I felt this could be a “big opportunity”. Odds could have all the ingredients to scale and disrupt a huge market. No one has introduced gamification to coupons this way. I felt I had the skills to help bring this idea to market. I dropped everything I was working on and became co-founder of the company. A good example of when preparation meets opportunity.
It started as a game “What are the Odds?” I played with friends in University. It was a lot of good-natured fun where someone would always end up having to buy their buddy a beer. It was so simple, fun and addictive. I began to think about how this game could be applied in a business/marketing sense. The more I thought about it, Odds was born.
How successful is Odds? (Tell us some of your successes.)
Following 2 years in development and product testing, Odds officially launched in late October of 2018. In the course 3 months, Odds now has over 60 retail locations offering awesome prizes and over 3000 users. Our numbers are snowballing in growth daily. It’s gratifying watching consumers play Odds and jump with excitement when they win, and retailers providing positive feedback on how Odds is bringing customers in the door and boosting sales. The formula has proven successful. We owe a lot to George Brown College for helping Odds launch into the Toronto scene. StartGBC, Kings Lounge, the Student Association, Craftwell and Enactus have all been very supportive in promoting Odds throughout the St. James Campus and community. We measure success in passing predetermined milestones, we have a lot lined for 2019, as we fine tune our product and plan for nationwide expansion.
We are very happy with how things are progressing with Odds and so far believe it to be a tremendous success. We’ve had a lot of restaurant owners tell us they’ve had an increase in monthly revenue from using our platform. That was a good feeling to know our concept works. We are in the infancy stage and are constantly working on ways to improve. Big updates and growth are in the works.
What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Understand the difference between being self-employed vs building a business. Both can be viable entrepreneurial career paths. But knowing the difference is very important. I read once that a business is something you can grow and sell. This really changed my perspective.
There is no such thing as unrealistic expectations, just unrealistic timelines. Trust the process and don’t rush it. It took me a while to learn that.