Interview with Patrick Clover, founder of BLACKBX.

Tell me a bit about BLACKBX and your new research?

I started BLACKBX a few years ago to fix guest Wi-Fi, which is often a poor experience for the user and gives absolutely no value back to the venue offering the service. I thought “surely that can’t be right?”

BLACKBX is a Wi-Fi marketing platform for independent shops, cafes, hotels and pubs, as well as big international brands with thousands of sites. Users don’t have to enter a password, or even give their email address if they don’t want to, and the platform makes it easy for the venue to do effective digital marketing to customers once they visit.

We issued the results of our new research last month revealing that food & drink venues are facing two massive challenges, younger generations abandoning traditional social venues like pubs and clubs, and the UK public at large only trying new venues 1-2 times a year. We like to think we can help these businesses bring more people into their venues, because a lot of them don’t know how to do marketing properly and many think it’s not for them. Indeed, in our research three quarters of people said that their favourite venue puts little or no effort into marketing their promotions and events. This is scandalous for an industry totally dependent on bringing people in the front door.

So how does Wi-Fi help exactly?

Good question. Dumb Wi-Fi cannot help but venues with our platform can use their Wi-Fi to better understand their customers, how long they stay, if they come back, what business looks like during peak times when they’re not there. They can then use these insights to improve engagement and communicate with customers better via automated marketing campaigns that are customised based on user behaviour.

These are the kinds of targeted and quantifiable campaigns that big brands and digital businesses have been doing for years, but we’re on a mission to prove that they are in reach for businesses of every size.

What does the future look like for BLACKBX?

I’d love BLACKBX to play a significant role in standardising what good Wi-Fi looks like. I want us to be in as many venues as possible, helping them serve their customers better and bring in new ones with good marketing.

As for the business itself, we are growing very quickly, so quickly in fact that we need another new office. While more stability would be nice in some ways, I’m also enjoying the journey immensely and having such rapid growth.