BY Walter Hayward 3 MINUTE READ

Co-founded in 2015 by dynamic duo Tina Fisher and Mark Bradshaw, SnapnSave is digitising the coupon industry. Positioned as “South Africa’s #1 cashback app” for both shoppers and vendors, the app allows customers to scan till slips with their phone camera and instantly start saving money on their purchases. Smartphones at the ready!

Launching a startup, and especially one that presents a new and innovative idea, is not for the faint-hearted. “While the beginning phase seems like a sprint, you must treat the journey like a marathon. And just like running a marathon, it helps to have a partner to lean on during the tough times,” says Tina. “You hit the wall and get frustrated at different times, which allows you to support one another. It’s great to have a partner who has different but complementary skills, allowing each of us to be the authority in our area of expertise.”

Mark is a CA (SA) with over 10 years’ experience with Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands in local and international markets. During his career, he worked at Union Swiss, the owners of Bio-Oil and was instrumental in their launch and success in the US market. Tina, originally from Canada, did her MBA at the University of Cambridge, and then stayed and worked in London for almost 10 years before moving to South Africa in 2012. She worked within the pharmaceutical industry for many years and her last position in the UK was as a Global Brand Manager at Pfizer. Mark, being a CA, is an expert in finance and business architecture, while Tina, having spent 15 years in marketing and sales, is the specialist in communications and operations.


It’s been the biggest rollercoaster — with very high highs, and very low lows. “It all started with the two of us sitting in a room drawing with a piece of paper to conceptualise our idea, to today with having processed over one million till slips, R8 million in cash back, 400 000 app downloads and a staff of 20 people. It’s difficult to get off the rollercoaster and reflect on what you have achieved because as entrepreneurs, we are always chasing the next win.”


In the late 2000s, Mark was instrumental in launching Bio-Oil (a South African personal care product) in the US and lived in California for a year. During his time in the States, he realised the impact that mobile phone technology and apps were having on consumer purchasing behaviour. At the same time, while living in London, Tina saw the emergence of digital coupons and tech-based vouchers, and the influence they had on consumers. The combination of these two experiences, along with the smartphone boom and South African potential, presented the perfect combination. In 2013, they started sketching out ideas and realised that South Africa’s attitude to coupons were very different than in the US or Europe. 

Using coupons or vouchers to save money, especially in-store at a till point, was seen as inconvenient and sometimes even embarrassing, regardless of how much the consumer was likely to save. Their solution? Simply “snapping a photo of your till slip” to redeem digital coupons in the privacy of your home or car would align much better with the South African psyche. 


SnapnSave was a consumer- facing platform for almost three years before we launched a digital rewards programme for independent vendors (people who purchase goods at wholesalers to sell to others). Our clients, multinational FMCG brands, asked if we could develop a solution to understand and influence purchasing behaviour in this sector of the retail market. We realised that there was a gap in the market for a brand loyalty rewards programme that was retailer indepen-dent. We launched this programme in June last year and it has been extremely successful. The brands love it because they have a better understanding of their loyal customers in the informal market, and the vendors love it because they receive cashback rewards for being brand loyal — regardless of where they shop. At this stage, there is very little competition in this market, which makes SnapnSave a perfect fit for brands, consumers
and vendors. 


With our corporate experience in global markets, we both know that expanding too quickly can result in a significant hit to the bottom line and cash flow if your core market and product offering is not stable. SnapnSave’s immediate short-term plans are to maximise the opportunity in South Africa and own the position as the number one cashback app for both shoppers and vendors through refining our business models and till slip Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Thereafter, we have a strong mandate to grow the business into another 20 developing markets.

Read the full article in the May 2019 issue of Fast Company SA