Conor Gilsenan Doubletapp

Fact File:

Age: 27

Position: Back Row

Club: London Irish

Appearances: 66

Can you tell us what your app doubletapp does?

It’s a social rewards platform, so from a user’s perspective it’s rewarding Instagram users for their Instagram activity. For example, post a photo with an outfit on a Saturday night, might have bought it on ASOS, you tag ASOS, get 50 likes, you might get 25% to shop there next time. From a business perspective, they get organic social media activity, which is what they crave all the time, and then you also get the returning custom with either a discount code or a freebie, often generating more revenue, and then you also get the loyalty component, so when people get rewarded from a brand or business they feel an affinity towards it.

How did you come up with the idea?

The idea came from a good friend of mine Ashley Staines, who is an ex-Goldman Sachs banker, and he left his post 18 months ago to pursue this full-time and he saw a gap in the market. Because influencers have had a meteoric rise, all the brands wanted to get involved. We’ve seen a trend in the market, that actually their credibility is diminishing all the time. Businesses still want social media exposure because that’s where people are spending all their time, but they wanted real people. This platform provides just that, so you don’t have to put an ad at the end of it, it’s organic.  We call it modern day word of mouth marketing. It’s 7 out of 10 millennials that are influenced in their consumer decisions by what they see online. 

Have you got anyone companies signed up already?

We have 60 businesses on board already. It’s mainly small and medium sized businesses including Café Rouge, Revolution. The businesses are all based in Sheffield initially because the founder is an ex-Sheffield alumnus. We’ve got about 2,500 true users – people who are actually active – and we’ve got about 4,000 app downloads to date. 

How have you managed to get investors to take the risk?

We are part of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. SEIS is an incentive to get investors to invest in early stage start-ups. Apps like ours are based on great ideas but obviously carry very high risk, so if someone was to invest in us they get 50% of their investment back straight away from a tax return and then they get a further 30% protected by government bonds. So if you think about it, if someone puts £10,000 in effectively only around £2,000 of that is at risk, so it’s really attractive for people who like a bit of a gamble.

How are you juggling your role in the company while being a professional rugby player?

Most of my work is remote from my laptop, which is good, so a lot of it is just emailing. It’s effectively sales and you’ve got to have thick skin. Thankfully from rugby you develop that with selection, contracts and injuries. I’ll always try and dedicate a couple of days purely towards the app.  So I go in with my business partner, spend a day with him, and often the best ideas and visions we have for our company are just when we spend a lot of time together. It’s just important to be in each other’s company, talking about the business and developing new ideas.  

What degree did you do?

I did the Leadership and Management degree, which was set up through the RPA. It was really, really good; I can’t speak highly enough about that really.  I’m so glad I did it as well. People were like, ‘Oh you should go and do an MBA or a Masters’, and I didn’t really want to do that, I wanted to get some experience.  I worked a little bit part-time with a rugby 7s festival in Richmond, also set up through the RPA, because I previously enjoyed working in events, and then this just came about. I used to keep in contact with Ash in my free time, and then he told me about this idea and I was like ‘Love it, I want to get involved’.

What are some of the positives of starting a business while still playing rugby?

When you get bad news in terms of selection or contracts or injuries - they’re small losses on a daily basis. But by having another focus, you can go away and you might get an email back from a big brand being like ‘We love the sound of it all’, that can just change your day in terms of small wins.