We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Ronald Herman a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Ronald, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today What were some of the most unexpected problems you’ve faced in your career and how did you resolve those issues?
We invested heavily in securing a long-term contract with a top-tier mobile network operator in the US. Our team created custom mobile apps for iOS and Android for use in customer acquisition and retention. The client and its agency created digital ads, in-store POP materials and all new branding for the marketing campaign.
Three days after both apps went “live” in the app stores, our client’s chief marketing officer pulled the plug on the entire initiative and most other marketing efforts. The executive team pushed the company into a quiet period while they were exploring a merger with another mobile operator.
We ramped staff, communicated the significant revenue opportunity to employees, partners and shareholders and were confident the contract would allow us to reach a key milestone in the development of the Company. The implosion was personally painful and impacted the entire team.
We immediately executed an outreach campaign to our investors, reorganized the staff to address other revenue opportunities and reduced operating expenses in order to remain a viable entity.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
I have been a CEO in the mobile technology sector for 23 years. My contribution to our stakeholders is the ability to identify unique and specific client needs related to mobile commerce, forge ecosystem alliances to address supply and demand requirements and bring a solution to market that benefits all participants.
I am most proud of our perseverance and longevity against the odds. Since our inception, we’ve seen much larger entities come and go: Sprint; AMEX Plenti; Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX); and, Xevo (connected car). Our ability as a unit to pivot when necessary has led to the inevitable “what’s old is new again.”
We have witnessed a resurge in opportunities first explored 5-6 years ago where our investment in pursuing those initiatives are now paying off.
In earnest, Sionic started as a mobile commerce company (mobile payments & loyalty) and has evolved into a market-unique, digital payments and connected commerce provider with market-first solutions.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
Within a few short weeks of having lost our contract with the mobile network operator, we were presented an opportunity to enter a second contract with a tier-one US automaker. Our original contract was to provide mobile commerce services. The new contract was to bring commerce services to vehicle dashboards – or in-vehicle commerce.
Our years of payments experience and underlying commerce technology allowed us to pivot within the market to address a burgeoning revenue opportunity for which the automaker was a pioneer.
We learned quickly the obstacles we faced in building a world-class mobile commerce solution paled in comparison to the challenges of conducting in-vehicle purchases: distracted drivers; eWallet tokens; one-to-many merchant relationships; etc.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
We built a business development organization using high-profile industry leaders in the mobile and retail channels. Invested heavily in creating direct client relationships that yielded little benefit.
We have since turned to alliance relationships with companies already having long-term clients whereby we add immediate value. This has been our most productive approach to acquiring good, loyal clients.
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Associations: Member of Faster Payments Council – https://sionicmobile.com/files/FPC_Flyer_2022.pdf