By Dan Loichinger
I have a fascination with leadership, learning and the intersecting stories of people who are successfully building organizations in effective and innovative ways. Fortunately, I have a coaching and consulting firm that allows me to interact and work with leading entrepreneurs and executives.
I recently sat down with Wes Schroll, Founder and CEO of Fetch Rewards, LLC. Let me share a bit of his story and what I learned from his journey. While similar to other entrepreneurial leaders I have met, his business idea has gained traction and is taking off in big ways.
What is the big idea behind Fetch Rewards?
Thanks for the interest in our story Dan. First, a quick clarification and teaser-announcement: Our current product in market has going through a name change, to help create a more cohesive product portfolio, as we gear up to launch our second product. Very exciting times for Fetch. Our current product in market, previously called Fetch Rewards is now called Shop Fetch. Shop Fetch is a mobile shopping platform that changes the way people experience the grocery store. It’s all about the experience of shopping, and making that experience better. For not only shoppers, but also for grocers and brands. Shop Fetch offers a smarter way to shop, giving shoppers more information, more convenience, more savings, and more fun along the way.
I can see how the name Shop Fetch fits a little better with what’s at the core of the product. Can you tell us about your new product?
I can’t wait to! Unfortunately, right now we need to keep it under wraps. I can say that it will be released in early 2017, and we’re so thrilled with what we’re going to be offering shoppers across the country with this new product.
That’s exciting. Have you always been an entrepreneur at heart?
I didn’t dream of growing up to be an entrepreneur, but I found myself always noticing things that were either inefficient or caused pain-points for people. Then, if there was the potential for an income stream attached to it, I dove in. The earliest instance that comes to mind is when I started retrieving lost golf balls, cleaning them up and re-selling them. Later, I graduated to detailing people’s cars. I noticed there was a substantial group of people who didn’t have the time to do on their own, and taking it to a car wash was inconvenient. So I built a business around coming to them. Looking back, both of these were in many ways like what I’m doing now, just applied against simpler problems than what we’re tackling today.
When did you start to get more serious about following an entrepreneurial path?
I started asking business entrepreneurs for their help years ago, and am fortunate enough to still have many of those mentors in my life today.
For me, things got more serious when I had to make a decision on where to go to school. UW Madison was a great choice for me because they had started a solid entrepreneurial studies program. I had great life experiences on campus, but more importantly, got involved in the business competitions where I met some of the team we still have on board at Fetch today. My mentors and business classes have definitely helped put a bit of a framework behind my ideas.
How is Fetch doing today?
We are doing very well if you count how many times I jump on planes and meet with customers and suppliers each month! More seriously, one of the things I was frustrated with is how poor the customer experience was for me, and other grocery shoppers – like I mentioned earlier, there were lots of inefficiencies in the system that created a suboptimal experience. I had a vision of disrupting the existing grocery shopping experience, and making it much better. We are doing that today, so I’d say we’re doing very well so far. That said, we still have a lot we want to do on that front.
What do you enjoy most about your company and role?
One of the other things I learned about myself was how much I enjoyed solving difficult problems while being part of a great team. We have an unbelievable bright and driven team, that is excelling at solving important problems for our customers.
Over the past year Fetch has expanded rapidly, partnering with dozens of stores and brands with operations now in seven states. Growing our great team has been unbelievable rewarding. We just moved into a new office, and are poised to continue our growth.
I don’t want to make it sound like everything has been easy. Like any other early-stage company, we have had our share of ups and downs. Lots of people have told us that certain things along the way can’t be done. We heard “that’s impossible” quite a bit. We have weathered those times by rolling up our sleeves, getting to work, and leaning on those willing to pitch in and help us out. It’s like Muhammad Ali said: “Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare.” I love to be dared.
What does the future look like for you and Fetch Rewards?
I fully expect that the success we’ll experience in the next year will far outweigh the year before. Our idea and the opportunity to disrupt the shopping experience have gained traction for retail shoppers and brands alike.
With a larger and more committed team, we are looking forward to additional releases of our programs and the behavioral analytics that drive a lot of what we do. Our people are great, and are a core part of our vision. Being further along in our growth, we’re able to provide them additional resources at this stage of the game that helps them achieve success even faster.
I’m in this for the long haul. I am not thinking about flipping the company and starting something new. We have learned a lot about the user experience and importance of providing better data for everyone. I want to continue learning, continue leaning on my team, and continue building on the great culture we have a Fetch.
Are you interested in what you’re reading here? Leave your comment and share other people you would like to see interviewed as part of this. You may also reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or review our executive coaching & development options at www.loichingeradvantage.com.