Georgina Nelson, CEO and Founder of TruRating and Winner of the entrepreneur category at the prestigious FDM Women in Tech Awards last month, talks to Entrepreneur and Investor about the value of creating a business that makes a difference.
Congratulations on the win – tell us about how the company came about…
As a former lawyer at Which? I noticed how influential online review sites were becoming and the make or break role they were playing for many businesses. Despite best intentions, these feedback sites often just didn’t represent the general public’s opinion, so I took to the streets with my daughter in her pushchair and went door to door talking to retailers about what they needed. It became clear to me that they were desperate for a way to get reliable feedback representing how the majority of their customers really felt. I also asked customers about providing feedback and they said they’d be more than happy to give their views, but simply wanted a quick and easy way to do so. Taking this into account, I set up TruRating which enables businesses to capture genuine paying customer feedback in real time across all types payment devices.
With TruRating, the idea is that everyone who uses a payment terminal – or at the checkout point online is asked to rate one of five questions related to service, value, product, experience and likelihood to recommend the brand, on a scale of 0-9. Retailers are given the feedback quickly so they can assess service levels, drill down, identify issues, and act on it.
How’s the technology been received?
Very well! We’re live the UK, Canada, North America and Australia – across thousands of outlets including some of the biggest retailers on the high street – for example in JD Sports, but also count many independents and hospitality businesses as customers.
To date we’ve collected over 20 million customer ratings and are on track for a billion ratings this time next year.
So what do you put your success down to?
The obvious answer is hard work but that aside, I intentionally structured the business to be 30 percent employee-owned so that everyone has a stake in our success and feels a proper sense of ownership. This has fostered a real sense of collaboration and transparency where everyone is pulling for the same goals. For example, employees have access to all financial documents and are routinely updated about board meetings and key decisions affecting their future too. We make a point to share successes at the end of each week over a beer or two and every few weeks, I do a “lessons learned” catch up where I share things we got wrong and what we can take away from our mistakes.
The belief that we all deserve to be treated equally is very much another pillar of our company culture. In fact, philanthropy is at the core of our business – I structured the business in such a way that the more successful we are, the more our selected charities benefit.
How does that work?
It’s as simple as this—every time a customer rates a business by using our service, we donate. Those donations are pooled and split between some amazing charities like Families First, Smile Train, Make-A-Wish, Right To Play and many more. We even let people decide how to split the money by voting on our website. It’s all part of an initiative we call TruCharity. Donations are determined by ratings and votes are counted quarterly. We also make additional voluntary donations and guarantee our charities a minimum amount per quarter.
My vision is to use our ratings to change the world and turn customer feedback into a force for good, so philanthropy isn’t just a separate initiative—it’s who we are and what we do. We know that small deeds can have large effects, so with TruCharity we’re looking at setting powerful changes into motion.
Any key charity highlights you can share?
The 20 million ratings we’ve collected have directly benefitted our charity partners. We donated over £32K and raised a further £2K through staff fundraising. Feedback from Smile Train (one of the selected UK charities) tells us that TruRating funded cleft lip and palate surgery for 28 children across the world – which literally generated smiles all round. We’ve also bought 224 school kits with WE Charity and provided 500 days of play for refugees with Right To Play.
We’ve teamed up with these charities to help in other ways—from showing up to support events, to offering outreach and branding support. We’re committed to the success of these worthy causes as much as we are to our own.
What’s next for you and the business?
Fortunately the payments industry globally is beginning to recognise the importance of differentiating their offering to retailers through value adds and how the point of payment can become so much more. It feels like we’re in the right place at the right time.
There’s no let up though, we’ve busy working on lots of new features, platforms and offerings. It’s just great that as we grow, we’ll always be making a difference to others too.