Mercedes-Benz Canada and Compass Group Canada join forces to host first Retail Experience Innovation Competition for Canadian startup companies

TORONTO, March 4, 2016 /CNW/ - Mercedes-Benz Canada and Compass Group Canada joined forces to host their first annual Retail Experience Innovation Competition (CXI) in Toronto. While Mercedes-Benz Canada and Compass Group Canada are known as highly successful and innovative organizations in their respective industries, they felt that they needed to do something different to fully utilize the potential of creative Canadian startups to boost the retail customer experience.

It was only three months ago that Ralph Ostertag from Mercedes-Benz Canada and Humza Teherany from Compass Group Canada were chatting informally. Despite their companies' different product offerings, they soon realized that they were facing similar challenges, especially in their retail customer experience environments. They surmised that working with young startups could very well be the key to creating and executing these much needed solutions with a shorter turnaround and a more focused approach than by using traditional means.        

"Our mission as the number one manufacturer in the luxury car segment in Canada is to delight our customers and make them into fans of our products and our brand. In the digital age where opportunities come and go quickly, collaboration with nimble startups is essential to win the race for the best retail customer experience. Our Retail Experience Innovation Competition is a new and different way of connecting startup champions with premium enterprises to further drive innovation in Canada," said Ralph Ostertag, Chief Information Officer, Mercedes-Benz Canada, Mexico and Latin America.

"As an industry leader in hospitality, retail and food services, we understand that to grow and maintain our market dominance over the long term, it's all about driving great consumer experiences, through innovation," said Humza Teherany, Chief Innovation Officer, Compass Group Canada. "Young startups offer the agility and creative thinking that larger organizations require to unplug innovation bottlenecks along with access to new energy, talent and enthusiasm."

With the proliferation of young and very successful Canadian startups, it was a timely opportunity for both firms to seek out potential associates to help them develop turnkey retail experience solutions. It was decided that the search for these partners would be done in the form of a startup competition.  

Mercedes-Benz Canada and Compass Group Canada turned to TWG (The Working Group) whose invaluable experience helped them conceptualize the CXI competition, build its numerous components and organize the event. A few weeks ago, TWG cast a wide net to invite as many startups as possible to enter the competition. A significant number of them responded and it was an arduous task for the committee to pare down the number of applicants to six startups. 

This very strong field of contenders, listed below, presented to a group of discerning judges comprising of the companies' CEO's and CIO's, Baba Shiv, Professor at Stanford University and the Marketing Director at TWG. 

The six presenting startups were:

Candid: Providing powerful tools for building community and driving revenue from Instagram. Using fresh and authentic content to increase conversion and sales as well as generate higher user engagement.

Chargespot: A smart platform to help to turn power into a powerful customer engagement and retention tool using wireless charging triggers and engaging customers while providing them with an invaluable service.

Nudge Rewards: Harnessing the combined power of smartphone technology, performance feedback, social competition and incentives to mobilize the team, drive sales, improve productivity or operational performance.

Sampler: Helping brands distribute product samples to customers through digital channels in more targeted and measurable ways than in traditional strategies. A digital sampling program that converts consumers to the clients' own marketing channels.

Spently: Maximizing a business' transactional emails as a marketing tool to effectively provide an on-brand customer experience after the point of purchase and reward existing customers with relevant promotions.

teaBOT: Building and distributing a robot that makes customized tea. teaBOT makes customized cups of grab-and-go loose leaf tea to create a new consumer experience where grab-and-go and made-to-order food meets robotics.

All six startups delivered compelling and passionate eight-minute pitches that were followed by a Q&A from the judges who were not afraid to ask tough questions. Following a much longer than expected deliberation, the judges agreed unanimously that each of the six startups had very interesting propositions which made their decisions all the more difficult.

In addition to sizable cash prizes, there was the riveting possibility for any of the startups to earn one or even two pilots to actually develop and implement their idea at their newly acquired client(s), Mercedes-Benz Canada and/or Compass Group Canada. The judges' choices were:

1st place (Cash prize of $12,000)

teaBOT

2nd place (Cash prize of $6,000)

Candid

People's Choice Award (Cash prize of $2,000)

Nudge Rewards

Compass Group pilot winner

Nudge Rewards

Mercedes-Benz pilot winner

Nudge Rewards

Jordan Ekers, Partner at Nudge Rewards said, "We were delighted to be invited to participate in the CXI. It was the perfect platform to ignite a discussion around how the disruptive solutions of small businesses can be applied to solve large-scale enterprise problems. We're thrilled to have been chosen to launch Nudge Rewards with two forward-thinking businesses and to be able to drive their team performance."

About Mercedes-Benz Canada
Mercedes-Benz Canada is responsible for the sales, marketing and service of the Mercedes-Benz and AMG passenger vehicles, Mercedes-Benz Vans and smart. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Mercedes-Benz Canada Inc. employs approximately 1,400 people in 21 locations across Canada. Through a nationwide network of 11 Mercedes-Benz owned retail operations and 46 authorized dealerships, Mercedes-Benz Canada sold 44,526 vehicles in 2015. This represents the best year ever for the company and has positioned Mercedes-Benz as the top luxury manufacturer in Canada for the second consecutive year.

About Compass Canada
Compass Group Canada became a market leader in contract foodservice and facilities management through a simple recipe: great people, great service and great results. This easy-to-follow recipe serves millions across the nation, from serving delicious, nutritious meals at school cafeterias, corporate cafes, hospitals and remote camps to routine cleaning and maintenance services at your workplace and airports. Chances are good that if you're hungry and away from home, you've tasted Compass Group's award-winning food and experienced our exceptional support services.

About TWG
Founded in 2002, TWG is a world-class team of software engineers, product designers and product managers located in downtown Toronto. Its mission is to build software applications for the world's most innovative companies while keeping values such as problem solving, reliability, craftsmanship and collaboration close to heart. TWG's roots are in software development and, as the web has evolved, so has TWG. The company believes that software is the most powerful tool available to create impact for its clients. TWG's toolkit blends lean and agile methodologies with human-centred design philosophies to generate real, measurable results.

SOURCE Mercedes-Benz Canada Inc.

Image with caption: "Nudge Rewards wins Compass Group Canada pilot during the Retail Experience Innovation Competition (CXI) in Toronto. From left to right: Humza Teherany, Chief Innovation Officer of Compass Group Canada, Jordan Ekers, Vice President, Business Development of Nudge Rewards, Lindsey Goodchild, CEO of Nudge Rewards, Saajid Khan, CEO of Compass Group Canada and ESS North America. (CNW Group/Mercedes-Benz Canada Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160304_C3052_PHOTO_EN_635708.jpg

Image with caption: "Nudge Rewards wins Mercedes-Benz Canada pilot during the Retail Experience Innovation Competition (CXI) in Toronto. From left to right: Gareth T. Joyce, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada, Jordan Ekers, Vice President, Business Development of Nudge Rewards, Lindsey Goodchild, CEO of Nudge Rewards, Ralph Ostertag, Chief Information Officer of Mercedes-Benz Canada, Mexico and Latin America. (CNW Group/Mercedes-Benz Canada Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160304_C3052_PHOTO_EN_635726.jpg

For further information: Mercedes-Benz Canada: JoAnne Caza, joanne.caza@mercedes-benz.ca, 416-847-7550; Nathalie Gravel, nathalie.gravel@mercedes-benz.ca, 416-847-7509; Compass Group Canada: Saira Husain, saira.husain@compass-canada.com, 905-568-4636 x7432; TWG: Alison Gibbins, alison@twg.ca, 647-537-2229

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