Introducing a pocket-sized calling card

Kyp Systems' hardest challenge as a start-up was describing its product to potential clients. Now it's been snapped up, it speaks for itself
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The Independent Online

Among the biggest challenges for Kyp Systems has been articulating to potential customers what its product, the iKyp, actually does. Indeed, while the iKyp is backed by some of the UK's most prominent business people, including Lord Young of Graffam and the Reuben Brothers, it is actually quite difficult to describe.

Nicholas Miller, co-founder and CEO, has a go. "It's a hands-on, pocket-friendly interactive communications tool," he says. "And it's aimed at organisations who are advertising, educating, promoting, informing or just exciting their marketplace."

With the company already having broken into 10 markets, including the US, China and the Middle East, since its launch in September 2005, Miller is clearly onto something. While he won't be drawn into providing actual figures, he says: "We're a business showing multimillion-pound profits in the second year of trading."

The iKyp (information to Keep in your pocket) is the first product from Kyp Systems. Miller explains that the gap in the market became clear when he hit upon industry estimates that the average consumer is confronted with more than 3,500 images a day. With the competition for consumer attention being so high, consumers are almost subconsciously tuning-out of marketing and advertising images and communication, he says. Kyp Systems products are designed to generate response by engaging the user through pull-out information, wheels and games, and most importantly, they get kept which ensures that messages are repeated.

It was in fact Godfrey Bradman, the other co-founder of the company, who first thought up the idea in 2003. He and Miller approached a firm of patent attorneys, who confirmed that the design could be registered. "We then spoke to the legal firm Clifford Chance to get further advice, and one of the senior partners, Neil Addison, saw such potential in the iKyp that he agreed to be our legal counsel. He left a firm he'd been with for 15 years to run an IP programme for us," says Miller.

The next step was researching the product itself. "We wanted to develop ways to create the iKyp in a way that was cost effective so that we could sell as many as possible," explains Miller.

Having consulted with one of the world's largest manufacturing firms who said they could make the iKyp for $1 (50p) a piece, Miller was unconvinced. "My background is in manufacturing promotional ideas and I used to source in the Far East and Middle East. With this experience of sourcing and manufacturing, I knew we could do it cheaper."

He was right. "We're now working to a single digit percentage of the original quote."

Already the business can count major brands such as Shell, British Gas, BP and the ING New York Marathon among its customers.

He cites the most exciting project to date was a government job that the company got involved in very early on. "They did a trial for 20,000 and it went so well that two weeks later, they bought another 250,000. To me, that proved the product really worked. Another highlight was the first job we did in Hong Kong for their largest fast food chain. They were expecting to get a 3 per cent redemption on the coupon they gave out in the iKyp and they actually got 11 per cent, which blew everything else out of the water."

Based in central London, the company's entire operation, including design and management, is under one roof. Miller explains that there are 26 staff, with numerous agents working elsewhere in the world.

Kyp Systems has not been without its challenges. Miller refers back to the problem of explaining the iKyp in a way - and therefore selling it in a way - that people understand. "In the beginning, we saw as the solution as being big brochures with a lot of words and pictures, but later we took a step back and turned 60 pages of brochure information into one page of A4, which gets to the essence of what the product is."

A further challenge lay in getting the exposure that Kyp Systems was looking for. "To start with, we thought we needed to be in all the press and have a huge advertising budget. But the iKyp has become an advert in itself. Every time someone has one in their hand, it's like our calling card. For instance, we produced one for The Kennel Club, which was seen by the Dogs Trust, who bought one, and now the RSPCA are clients. In fact, they're not just clients - they're repeat clients."