Hunting for digital treasure with Joe Martin’s augmented reality app Snatch

Transferring digital parcels to real world prizes, Joe Martin takes us on an augmented reality treasure hunt with Snatch.

As augmented reality and technology continues to advance, possibilities to engage with an audience and play with the boundaries of reality present themselves. Enter Snatch, an augmented reality treasure hunting experience for your mobile. Joe Martin saw an opportunity to connect with users via cutting-edge mobile technology, transferring digital parcels into real life prizes.

What does your business do?

Snatch is an augmented reality mobile experience that’s changing the way consumers and brands engage with one another. Using geo-location and augmented reality technology, Snatch creates a treasure hunt where users search out virtual parcels that later become unique, real-world prizes, with many of these prizes coming from some of the UK’s biggest brands.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

My background in forensic science ignited my interest in human behaviour, and I used this experience to think about brand sales and marketing in new ways, even before Snatch was conceived. From a consumer point of view, I was already frustrated by paying money for mobile experiences that had no tangible takeaway. I wanted to create something that challenged the status quo on both the brand and consumer sides, but at its core gives users something new and exciting to engage with each and every day outside of the daily grind.

How did you know there was a market for it?

For a long time, I’d felt that advertising has failed to move with the times. Advertisers are still speaking at consumers, rather than paying attention to what they actually want to hear. The rise of ad blockers proves this ‘broadcasting’ approach isn’t working. Intrusive advertising no longer resonates and budgets can be wasted on a disengaged audience. The aim with Snatch was to provide an environment where brands are genuinely welcomed, and users are given control and rewarded in the real world for actively engaging with the brands of their choice.

How did you raise funding, and why?

At first I spent a lot of time researching relevant partners. I wanted to make sure we worked with organisations that understood Snatch and were actively looking for what it offers: a way to drive welcome engagement with consumers and get products in front of an active, millennial audience for discovery and adoption.

Once I’d identified the desire from both potential players and brands, it all came down to good old fashioned grunt work. I actually immersed myself into the tech sector and made sure I was in the right places at the right time (not always legitimately) to get in front of the right people. I knew I just needed five minutes to show exactly what Snatch could do.

When we partnered with Unilever Ventures, we knew we were on to a winner. The six figure investment before the app had even launched was a real vote of confidence. Not only did we secure funding, but we’d partnered with a company that understood our values and appreciated our offering.

Describe your business model in brief

Snatch currently provides just under 100 brands with an alternative form of marketing that challenges traditional, intrusive ads. It gives control back to the consumer, allowing them to get out and search for prizes from the brands.

Since launching, we’ve had a lot of interest from marketers who understand the importance of authentically engaging with an audience. Millennials in particular are very savvy when it comes to more traditional advertising. They understand their worth online, and will completely disregard an advert if it pops up and interrupts what they are doing. We’re challenging brands to respond to this obstacle and interact with consumers in a different way but also to be more accountable with their ad spend – Snatch has an incredibly intuitive back-end attached that allows the brand to measure and learn about the audience that it is attracting and engaging with, which allows them to go and be more targeted with their outreach overall.

What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?

The investment from Unilever Ventures was a fantastic milestone for us, especially so early on. It was particularly humbling, as Unilever’s venture capital arm rarely invests in pre-Series A companies like Snatch. It was a real show of confidence in our offering, and gave us a powerful proof point to use when speaking to other investors and partners.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

There are two pieces of advice I always give entrepreneurs. The first I was given at an entrepreneurs’ conference back in 2013. I asked the speaker what advice they would give themselves now, if they were starting out, and they replied, “hire people who are better than you.” That really stuck with me, and it’s what we do at Snatch today. Identify the gaps and fill them with the best people we can find – there is no room for ego if you want to develop.

Secondly, fail fast. Failing is the best way to learn, especially in tech, so we say it to all our team members. Don’t be afraid of it – it’s how you grow. Our job roles are all about learning, so the quicker you fail, the quicker you can learn from that failure, the quicker you’ll grow and improve.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I’d love to be using my success in Snatch to help build and fund the ideas of others, especially challenged and underprivileged kids. I am not from money, and couldn’t code when I started working on Snatch. For me, getting Snatch off the ground took a good few years of grit, perseverance and hustle before we could even start thinking about building it, let alone get it out to market. I’d love to give others the help that I could have done with.

If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…

Tough one. I had my first money making ‘business’ at the age of 8 (I used to take my unwanted toys and whatever I found lying about into school and sell them out of my desk – I even used to stay behind after hours to allow time for my classmates to bring their parents in to pay!). I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else. In line with the traits of an entrepreneur, I’d be pushing my ideas until I found one that stuck. If you really had to push me, I’d most likely say I’d be working with the aforementioned underprivileged kids in the evenings and working in forensics during the day.

What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?

Be honest, and help people as much as you can. You never know how or when they may be able to help you. Focus every single effort you have on reaching your dreams, because even if you fail you will have learnt so much that will enable you to come back stronger the next time. If you want something, get out and get it for yourself, don’t rely on others to do it for you. And most importantly – never stop learning; meet as many people as you can and learn from their successes and failures.

Owen Gough

Fred Morissette

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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