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Sionic Mobile is a Midtown Loyalist

by Tricia Whitlock

Sionic Mobile is the creator and provider of ION, the first fully-digital/mobile promotion, gift card, payment and rewards app for phones and tablets. In a nutshell, Sionic’s application reduces credit card processing fees and rewards loyal customers based on what they spend.

This Midtown based company (a stone’s throw from Georgia Tech) has launched Midtown Loyal, a mobile rewards & payments initiative for local merchants. Midtown merchants can use Midtown Loyal to create compelling promotions for nearby smartphone consumers, accept secure mobile payments and reward customers instantly through a points-based system. The best part? The merchants and customers can take part for free.

How does this benefit consumers? 

  • Checkouts at every ION merchant (40,000 retailers nationwide) earn users instant points they can spend like cash on anything at anytime. No fees, restrictions, or expiration dates.
  • Earn 1% rewards on all Google Wallet, Visa Checkout and credit/debit card payments on top of the card rewards program.
  • Customers can share IONs, send gift cards and connect with friends using the app.
  • The free apps support iOS and most Android devices.

How does this benefit business? 

  • Merchants can utilize mobile devices, Bluetooth® beacons and the cloud to connect with nearby consumers.
  • The ION Loyalty app adds value to a brand through cumulative shopper rewards received at checkout.
  • Keep payment processing fees down with ION Loyalty on a tablet or phone at point-of-purchase: just 2.75% for Google Wallet, Visa Checkout, or credit/debit card payments.
  • Manage promotions, accept payments, and confirm rewards on a tablet or smartphone at checkout. The technology works alongside any existing POS system, requires no upfront cost or additional equipment and typically may be setup in 30 minutes or less.
  • No start-up or monthly fees.

Why Midtown for the Promotion?

Ronald Herman, CEO and founder of Sionic Mobile, shared with Hypepotamus that he wants “Midtown to be recognized as the leader in mobile commerce… and for our innovation accomplishments.”

In the press release on the launch of Midtown Loyal, Herman also commented that “Midtown Atlanta is home to many leading finance and mobile technology companies and is quickly gaining a reputation as ‘Innovation Central’ in the U.S. market.  We want to help further elevate Midtown Atlanta by connecting more merchants with more consumers through mobile devices than any other geography in the country.”

Kevin Green, CEO and president of Midtown Alliance, added that “given Midtown’s young and tech savvy workforce and residents and concentration of restaurants, arts and culture, retail and entertainment venues, we believe Midtown is  the perfect location to test drive Sionic Mobile’s new rewards and payments initiative.”

The Sionic Mobile Story

The Start:
Herman and a small team spun Sionic from Intellione Technologies (now Urban Informatics), a decade old company that was focused on turning cell location data into patterns of movement, specifically dealing in transportation. In 2008 Intellione launched their first smart phone application on BlackBerry and three years later they were acquired by Intelligent Mechatronic Systems. In Feb through May of 2010 Herman and his team decided to learn from what they had built at Intellione and  focus on starting and scaling Sionic Mobile.

The Differentiatior: 
Sionic has a unique “Robin Hood” approach by making “room in the flow of money.” They are saving both consumers and merchants money, not creating additional costs. All other applications only do payments, loyalty, or giftcards, but not all three. Their closest competition is PayPal but, Herman sees their business model as “a bit upside down.”

The problem is the majority of these apps are based upon upside-down business models that do not have consumers’ best interests in mind, resulting in a subpar user experience and low adoption rates. Our goal has always been to provide ION Rewards users with a fast, intuitive and rewarding checkout experience.- Herman

Although Herman doesn’t label Sionic a “social enterprise,” the company does have a civic-minded/do-gooder heart.  Their Shop2Give offering helps nonprofits hit their fundraising goals by providing them with social tools and merchant partners to collect donations. Also, they focus on hiring and training bright, yet under served and under educated folks. This garners Sionic a malleable and loyal workforce, and in turn provides their employees with a strong income and a blossoming technology skill set.

Why Atlanta?
Herman originally chose to set up Sionic in Atlanta because AT&T was based here. He had a former board member that worked for AT&T and had strong roots in the area. He has stayed because of the proximity to Georgia Tech and the opportunities and talent it has to offer.

The Funding:
Sionic has raised $8mm in private funding (not venture) and has closed the first $2mm of a total $10mm Series B from strategic investors.

[Photo Credit]

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