(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles spotlighting participants in the recent “What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch” coordinated by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center for The Development Corporation of Knox County. The competition was won by Erica Grant with Quantum Lock, and you can read our previous article about her initiative here.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Fred Jacob is a media guy. He started in radio with stations in Michigan, Miami and Knoxville before becoming a Co-Owner of WKGN, then a local talk station. It was that ownership that brought him to Knoxville.
“I loved the ability to impact people through radio,” Jacob told us recently. Today, as President and Chief Executive Officer of Jacob Marketing Inc., the Virginia Tech alum has a new calling, helping build meaningful and worthwhile connections between exhibitors and those who attend big events.
The local entrepreneur pitched his latest idea – Scan2Scan – during the recent “What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch.” The app, available in both iOS and Android versions, and its supporting analytics are the result of several years of development of a product named BrideScan that is focused, as its name implies, on brides.
For Jacob, app development is the latest iteration in a three-decade entrepreneurial journey that has taken him away from radio and into publishing, event management, and several other areas. The journey started before the internet and all of the information consumers can now find but, ironically, Jacob’s latest efforts are designed to help individuals manage the voluminous amount of information that can secure from exhibitors at an event while also adding value for the latter.
The Knoxvillian says his first foray outside of radio was focused on restaurants, real estate and brides. “I collected restaurant menus and published them,” he said. Today, restaurants publish their menus online, but the only option 30 years ago was to go to the restaurant and peruse the menu. He also took pictures of homes and weddings and published them.
The area that took-off quickly was the bridal focus, and it resulted in the launch of a publication named The Pink Bride that is now almost 30 years old. The magazine is a resource for those planning their weddings and has spawned another business venture – the “Pink Bride Wedding Show.” Hosted twice a year in six cities, the shows draw about 9,000 attendees.
“We offer the shows in Birmingham, Chattanooga, Kingsport, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville,” Jacob says. There are fashion shows during each event and opportunities for attendees to interact with the many wedding vendors. Helping bring more value to both those who are attending and those who are exhibiting resulted in the development of BrideScan.
As any reader who has attended a conference knows, every exhibitor has information they want you to pick-up. What happens to that information after the event? Chances are you dump it. Is there a better way? Jacob believed so when he started developing BrideScan.
“I wanted brides to be in the driver’s seat to determine what they want to get,” Jacob says in describing the app. “Swapping is determined by the bride.”
How does it work? Brides download the app ahead of or at the start of the show, and exhibitors receive a QR code. “They (the brides) only scan the codes of those vendors whose information they want to have, but the vendor also gets contact information about the attendee,” Jacob explains.
With BrideScan supporting his 12 bridal shows over a year in Alabama and Tennessee, the entrepreneur saw an opportunity to expand the reach and impact of the technology.
NEXT: From BrideScan to Scan2Scan.