MarTech Interview with Panayotis Nikolaidis, CEO and Founder at Savings United

MarTech Interview with Panayotis Nikolaidis, CEO & Founder, Savings United
MarTech Interview with Panayotis Nikolaidis, CEO & Founder, Savings United

“Increasing the level of autonomy and creativity means that our team members are more likely to have a great day.”

Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to start Savings United?

I wanted to set up my own business for as long as I can remember. However, I was inspired to start Savings United following a summer entrepreneurship program at Hanse Ventures, an incubator company for start-ups in Hamburg. The program was excellent. It gave my cohort and me the opportunity to develop new business ideas in a supportive environment. We toyed with roughly ten different ideas before finally settling on setting up a voucher code company. In its previous incarnation, Savings United was an international coupon operator. Then, we saw a gap in the market and refreshed our business model. We now collaborate with some of the world’s best media houses.

What is Savings United and how does it fit into a modern Technology stack?

We’re a leading coupon partner of premium media companies. Through our collaborations, we connect selected advertisers with smart shoppers in trustworthy environments. In the digital era, media houses are often in search of new ways to diversify their revenue streams, we offer a brand-safe way to be an integrated part of e-commerce, increase their digital revenue and provide value to readers, advertisers, and smart shoppers.

Tell us more about your Content Partnership solutions for publishers and e-commerce brands.

Sure, I’d be happy to. We offer bespoke Performance Marketing solutions alongside publishers. At the moment, we have partnerships in 13 countries across the world. As I mentioned above, we provide a new revenue stream for publishers so that they can concentrate on their core objectives.

On the other side, the nuts and bolts of what we do is helping advertisers make the most of their Marketing efforts. Initially, we offer nuanced online coupon strategies and drive new customers to advertisers sites. In addition, we offer a range of solutions such as PPC, online to offline campaigns and influencer strategies to enable advertisers to reach their target markets with tailored messaging, which is proven to persuade shoppers to purchase.

Since print has been in decline for some time and ad revenue is decreasing, we knew our solutions had the potential to deliver excellent results for our partners. We’ve spent the last few years refining our business model in Europe, where we have changed the shape and pace of the coupon arena. Just ten months ago, we launched the first of several projects in the US, and we are already seeing similar results.

Which Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

I value tools that aid collaboration, promote the transparent flow of information internally and with our partners, and that improves our efficiency. Looker, Trello and other similar tools make it so much easier to achieve these goals. They help to provide a level of transparency regarding what team members are working on give an additional layer of understanding and empathy, particularly between colleagues.

We try to automate as much of the routine aspects of our business as possible. This gives our team the freedom to be innovative and do more meaningful work. Increasing the level of autonomy and creativity means that our team members are more likely to have a great day.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Digital Asset Management technology for 2019-2020?

I am excited by the disruptions AI will potentially cause. I think it will be of utmost importance to find a human and nature-centric approach to AI. Coming back to our industry, AI has a big potential to change the way we shop. EY predicts that shopping for perfunctory items such as toilet paper and washing powder may no longer be part of our regular routines. This may be a task we outsource to AI bots. The emergence of this trend is likely to have implications for brands in terms of how they:

  • Position themselves,
  • Engage with customers,
  • and potentially how they encourage customer loyalty.

What start-ups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

I’m a big fan of Tech for Good. In my view, it’s important to contribute to wider society in whatever way you can. There are some really exciting and cool companies operating in this space such as Zipline. They use drones to deliver life-saving medicine to those who need it most in countries such as Rwanda and Ghana. Their mission is to provide every human on Earth with timely access to vital medical supplies. So far their work has been able to make a huge impact on reducing maternal mortality rates in Rwanda, for example.

Vivelia is another company I’m following closely. They are doing very interesting and valuable psychotherapeutic work with businesses and their employees. I believe that psychotherapy is something that can have value for everyone, not just those who experience profound distress. By applying aspects of psychotherapy to employment-related contexts, Vivellia is part of a wider movement bringing therapy more into the mainstream.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?

AI is such a wide-ranging and emergent topic. It’s important for me to consider what kind of role AI could play in business and society, both now and in the future. With that perspective, I try to imagine a world that I want to be a part of in 100 years and try to understand where a human has the advantage over an almost perfect machine. As a Business Leader, it makes sense to have a vision of where you are heading and the world that you are co-creating.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

Being a tech company, we give our team the freedom and trust to make their own decisions. There is a real appetite for trying new tech and new solutions among our team. We encourage our people to try new ideas and concepts that will move the company closer to our mission.

One word that best describes how you work.

Longterm

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Google Calendar and SEMrush

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

In terms of productivity, I have adopted a radical approach to prioritization so I ensure I’m making the biggest impact possible during my working day. The main question I ask myself is: How can I maximize my impact on our organization and our people in a finite number of hours? This isn’t easy, it requires both discipline and effort to maintain.

What are you currently reading?

I enjoy reading from a wide range of genres, including philosophy, non-fiction, and business-focused titles. At the moment, I’m reading:

  • A selection of writing from Seneca, the Roman Stoic philosopher,
  • The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World written by Andrea Wu
  • and Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organization

As well as reading books, articles and weekly papers, I listen to podcasts and audiobooks and watch documentaries.

 What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

If you want to solve a problem, first find the root. It seems obvious but we often spend precious time trying to find solutions to symptoms without first properly investigating and understanding the underlying causes. It’s important not to get distracted by the symptoms. Focus and Prioritization are key tools to dig deeper into the matter and find effective solutions to overcome them while being as efficient as possible.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

That doesn’t really chime with how I think about things. I don’t have a magical formula. The success our company has achieved is due to a number of factors. As well as the hard work, passion, and expertise of our team, we’ve also been lucky and benefited from other factors that have not necessarily been in our control such as good timing and taking risks that paid off.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Nicholas Thompson (Editor in Chief Wired)

Thank you, Panayotis! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Panayotis is the Founder and CEO of Savings United. He leads the company strategically towards new markets, partnerships and business opportunities worldwide. He also ensures the establishment of a unique corporate culture based on entrepreneurship, friendship, passion, transparency, excellence, and happiness.

His company, Savings United, is the leading provider of voucher code white labels for premium media groups.

savings-united logo

Savings United is the leading couponing white label provider for premium media companies. When partnering with Savings United, media publishers diversify their revenue stream, reach new audiences and generate high-value e-commerce data without disturbing their readers’ user experience. This incremental source of revenue supports media groups to focus on their journalistic activities.

Founded in 2012, Saving United is present in 13 countries worldwide, such as the UK, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. The Digiday Media Awards have awarded savings United the Best E-Commerce Strategy prize.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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