Ngage founders Grant McAdam (left) and Jordan Reid (right)
Founded just eighteen months ago, fledgling technology company Ngage has officially taken flight. The company is currently developing its hospitality app Smart Concierge, due for launch next year.
Designed to improve guest experience, putting content and offers “in the palm of guests’ hands”, Smart Concierge allows customers to book amenities, order food, check in and out and receive tailored local information from their mobile device.
As well as having a number of UK companies on board, the app has received global interest, including clients in New York.
We caught up with Ngage founders Jordan Reid and Grant McAdam, the disruptive new duo shaking up Scotland’s technology sector.
What are your key services or products?
The main thing we design is bespoke apps. We believe in thinking smart, making things simple and delivering seamlessly.
We saw a lot of smaller businesses getting ripped off when developing websites for their own apps, so we started offering a free consultancy service. That grew legs, and after two or three months we had clients in New York.
We have custom offerings geared towards accommodation providers, tourism bodies and event organisers. For example, our accommodation offering Smart Concierge allows guests to browse, book and buy the range of amenities, services and experiences in and around the accommodation venue. As a white-label product, Smart Concierge also fits with the hotel's branding.
Technology can be intimidating, so we wanted to create an offering that was both rewarding and intuitive.
What was the inspiration behind Ngage? Describe the company's early days and any key milestones.
The biggest challenge is the same as the most exciting element. It’s going out there, trying to read the value dynamics in your market and then bringing heads together with everyone else to create a win-win for all involved. It’s fast, it’s always changing and there is no final whistle.
Running a company means being entirely responsible for getting stuff done. It’s really exciting because you don’t get into a boring routine, but at the same time it’s very challenging as it’s so non-stop. We give ourselves a pat on the back for five minutes and then we need to create something else to stop ourselves from falling behind.
Why is innovation so important for business?
When it comes to technology, everything is moving so fast and there’s always someone to compete against. The critical advantage we have is understanding the user and making the experience genuinely intuitive and easy – that’s massively reliant on innovation.
We need to be innovative in how we conduct the analysis and user experience – how we develop and construct the platforms, the software and the apps. We have to be at that “dangerous edge” where others don’t go to. We have to bring something new to the table.
Most of the apps out there get between 3 and 8% adoption by their target audience. In testing so far we’ve reached 62% adoption, and that’s all based on the experience with Smart Concierge. The user experience and the way the marketing and technology harmonise to make that work is definitely the “secret squirrel”.
What was the most useful piece of support you received from the innovation team at Scottish Enterprise?
For us the innovation team undersells itself massively. You can tell the people you’re working with genuinely care about what you’re doing. They’ll remember things you said two months ago while walking to a café, for example.
They know businesses at all stages of their journey, so for us it’s great to have them there as a sounding board. It can be hard to gain access to valuable information on business development advice but that’s where the innovation team help break down those barriers.
What’s also valuable is having the insight of knowing what’s right for us at what time. Anybody could sit there and tell us we could look up a website for funding options, but the innovation team showed us which ones were appropriate to us.
We know how to do what we do, but knowing how to put that into a functioning business system that ticks all the right boxes – sometimes that’s where we need someone to say, “have you thought about this?”
What’s next for the company?
The next step for Ngage is twofold. Firstly, we are planning a national case study for Smart Concierge, so we are always looking for more hotels and accommodation providers to take part.
Secondly, we want to continue to support businesses looking to get quality websites and apps that will stand the test of time without getting ripped off.
Find out more about innovation support