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  • Great Companies

Amber Skinner-Jozefson, CEO at e.pop

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Amber Skinner-Jozefson: The concept for e.pop was born from an immediate and personal frustration. At the time, the two co-founders were frequently on the road for work, collecting ridiculous amounts of paper receipts that needed to be saved, submitted to expenses, stored and filed. Taking photos of paper receipts to then upload to an expense management system remains an annoying exercise at best, especially when on-the-move. Saving these tiny pieces of paper for future filing is cumbersome and oftentimes, frankly, impossible to do. And in addition, we all know that receipt ink disappears after a certain amount of time and then the entire receipt becomes completely useless.

When they started looking for a better way to simply get receipts directly sent to their phones for storage and safe-keeping, the co-founders could not find an adequate solution. They then learned exactly how toxic and dangerous paper receipt ink is! Bisphenols or BPA used in thermal receipts is a hormone disrupting toxic chemical that has since been banned in a number of territories.

The aha! moment was when they coupled all of the above with the very real environmental impact of paper receipts – not just the felling of trees but that 90% of paper receipts end up in landfill because of the toxic chemicals used in their production.

Very quickly thereafter, e.pop was developed, which very appropriately stands for “electronic proof of purchase”.

Great Companies: What are the various services provided by e.pop?

Amber Skinner-Jozefson: e.pop is a retail data and analytics fintech, connecting retailers and shoppers based on SKU-level spending, delivering merchants insight into shopper behavior as well as a consumer engagement channel.

For the end user, e.pop’s mobile app is a hub where shoppers view and store their receipts. They even receive a dedicated @myepop email address where they can forward email receipts from non-e.pop stores and still view their receipts in the app. In the app, shoppers receive discounts and offers from the businesses and brands they want without ever exposing their personal data or contact information.

For businesses and merchants, e.pop provides detailed insights into a 360-degree view of shopper behavior. Stores have a really good idea of how consumers purchase goods and services within their four walls or within their website. However, they are unable to see the full shopper journey online to offline and online again via multiple different merchants. e.pop provides this data because we’re able to see item-by-item receipt data across all merchants in a shopper’s journey regardless of whether they are physical stores or ecommerce and regardless of the geography or market.

Great Companies: What makes e.pop different from hundreds of other similar service providers?

Amber Skinner-Jozefson: When we look at the competitive landscape, there are others that have taken off doing a part of what e.pop is doing – for example, connecting with Point of Sale systems to provide merchants with receipt-level analytics; or providing consumers with a hub to store digital receipts and/or engage with brands via discounts and promotions.

The e.pop solution is an entire ecosystem that provides customers and end users with all of the above plus an engagement channel that is highly personalized and individualized based on real shopper behavior. We are also able to maintain a very, very high level of privacy for end users in that we never expose their personal information directly to brands yet they are still receiving a very tailored experienced.

In a world where an increase in consumer data-privacy has massively disrupted merchant sales and marketing channels, e.pop provides real value to both sides of our marketplace.

Great Companies: What were the struggles and challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Amber Skinner-Jozefson: Starting a multi-sided marketplace from scratch is one of the most difficult endeavors to get off the ground. You have to first crack the chick-egg problem – meaning to say, decide which side of the marketplace do you start with. Like most, we started with the supply side. Then, you need to grow both sides at a proportional rate that ensures continued value to the other side. Merchants need to see growing user numbers, and shoppers get more value from engaging with more brands.

Conventional wisdom says that building a marketplace is just very capital intensive in the beginning. Until you prove out an atomic network and get that acquisition flywheel spinning, marketplace building can be very expensive and very time consuming.

We didn’t wait to get to a certain level of product readiness to start building out our merchant or end user networks. It’s tempting to say to yourself, “until I have X product live, I can’t start building a network”. We approached things differently in that we decided way before we had any product ready that we would build community like it was our product – and in truth, that is the reality.

As a result, we got to work developing an online community of sustainable shoppers and merchants that served and continues to serve as a funnel into our core products but more importantly gives us a pool of customers that we can engage with and learn from as we continue to develop product. This online community has really taken off into something we didn’t expect as we’ve unlocked ways to provide ongoing value to community members that overlaps with e.pop core products but also exists separately.


Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for e.pop?

Amber Skinner-Jozefson: In five years, I expect e.pop to be the default receipt app for end users, I expect (our online community) BeOne to be a sizeable community – a marketplace in its own right, even – supporting sustainable merchants all around the world as well as providing sustainable shoppers with alternatives to big, polluting brands.

There are so many use cases in the pipe for us to explore, trial, and develop. The foundation of e.pop could move in a number of directions, integrating different players from major card issuers to payment and technology platforms in the personal finance management and expense management spaces to new shopping and retail technologies.

I envision the core of what we develop and what e.pop looks like in five years will still squarely revolve around unique sets of analytics as well as connecting shoppers and merchants in a seamless, engaging way that is highly sensitive to individual data protection yet provides a very bespoke experience to every side of the ecosystem.

This is in line with our mission and vision and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Amber Skinner-Jozefson: Being an entrepreneur will challenge you like very few things in life. Having a team around you –whether that is company members or external advisory group or network or even friends and family– with whom you can be vulnerable, vent, solicit help, and just be yourself is invaluable. Your brain and your days will be so full and planned out. Being able to let go, take pressure off, find counsel and support is an essential way of creating more bandwidth and enabling you to go further.

There are, of course, that handful of entrepreneurs who can just white-knuckle their company building venture powered by nothing but their sheer will power and emotional control. Assume you are not one of those very, very rare people and seek out a support system.



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