GetintheLoop CEO Matt Crowell made quite the first impression on Cliff Shillington. When Crowell was originally considering a career in the real estate industry, he sat down for a chat with Shillington, who had worked alongside Matt’s father at RE/MAX in Kelowna.
“I especially remember his tremendous sense of energy and enthusiasm,” Shillington said. “He seem focused on what he wanted to do, and after chatting with him I realized real estate isn’t what he wants to do; he’s got better plans.”
Crowell launched the GetintheLoop platform in 2011 as a way for golf courses to market open tee times to golfers. Shillington kept up-to-date on Crowell’s progress through conversations with his dad. During one of their chats, the topic veered toward GetintheLoop as a possible investment opportunity.
Shillington was admittedly hesitant; he had invested in tech companies in the late 90s and said the only return he got on his investment was “no money in my bank account”. He decided to take a meeting with Matt and credits it as one of the smartest business decisions he has ever made.
“I was really taken by Matt’s focus, excitement, enthusiasm and commitment that he could make this happen and make this grow,” Shillington said. “Interestingly enough, I’d seen these traits before with some people associated with RE/MAX where I just knew they would do it.
“As I sat there and listened to Matt, I got the sense that he was onto something. I swore to myself that I’d never invest in a tech company again, and here I am writing him a cheque for x number of dollars.”
Shillington has gone on to invest in GetintheLoop not once or twice, but four times. His contributions have supported GetintheLoop in becoming Canada’s leading mobile marketing platform. Today, local businesses from every industry imaginable use the software to market unique products, services and experiences to customers.
“Do I believe in what he’s doing? Absolutely. That’s what really allowed me to make a decision to support Matt,” Shillington said. “I’ve been with RE/MAX from early on, and similar to how RE/MAX revolutionized the real estate industry, I felt from the beginning that this platform would revolutionize the advertising media business.
“If you own a real estate company, you traditionally will spend your fair share on print media. It gets dropped on people’s doorsteps and no one’s reading it. People make a specific decision to download GetintheLoop and see what’s on it. Now, you’re reaching the consumers you want to get who are going to look at what's being offered and take advantage of it. GetintheLoop is way more affordable for small business owners than taking out an ad in print media.”
One of the most valuable assets Shillington has invested into GetintheLoop is his franchising expertise. He was the Vice President of International Business Development with RE/MAX from 2000-2005, helping expand the company’s international franchise footprint from 32 to 54 countries.
Needless to say, when Crowell first explored the idea of establishing a franchise component to GetintheLoop, Shillington was just the person to seek counsel from - even if Crowell didn’t realize it at the time.
“He said, ‘I’m hoping to find someone who knows something about franchising.’ I said, ‘You don’t know what I used to do, do you?’ When I told him about my experience at RE/MAX, he was just sitting there and couldn’t believe it,” Shillington said with a laugh. “I thought it was a great idea.”
Leading up to the inception of the franchise program GetintheLoop Local in 2018, Shillington and Crowell spent a lot of time brainstorming ways to move the franchise program from concept to reality. Shillington noted that he talked to Matt “more on a daily basis than my kids” as he related his RE/MAX franchise expansion experiences.
“When we’d go into an international region with RE/MAX, some people thought it was a hot air balloon company,“ Shillington said. “When you’ve got a new franchise coming into the market, the brand is not known and you have to spread awareness to the consumers and the ones who want to buy the franchise.”
This initial advice and ongoing support from Shillington has helped GetintheLoop Local gain the distinguished status of being Canada’s fastest growing franchise program. Shillington feels that GetintheLoop is “blowing the doors off any franchise that’s out there.”
“The success that GetintheLoop Local has enjoyed in a short period of time is because we’re offering things that no other franchise offers,” Shillington said. “It offers individuals the ability to buy a franchise with such a small capital investment. When you join GetintheLoop, you probably already own a phone because that’s how you got in touch with us and you likely own a car. The only other things you need are desire and enthusiasm to go out and do it.”
Shillington thinks GetintheLoop has a “tremendous” future in store. He said it will be important for the team to remain focused on its goals.
“Matt’s enthusiasm is what has got us to this point and his team has followed him with the same level of enthusiasm and desire,” Shillington said. “The team recognizes that we have to keep pushing the envelope. Can we do something better? Can we continue to create something that’s going to be what the consumer wants and what the businesses want?
“Knowing Matt, this innovation isn’t going to stop.”