How SquareOne used a creative marketing campaign to drive a big growth spike

Written by
Chrissy Barton-Jones
Published on
April 29, 2024

✨ Welcome to the Startup Marketing Stars series. Here, we bring you the untold stories of AU and NZ startup marketing strategies. What worked in the early days? What didn’t? And what can you learn from it? Join us as we share the experiences of startup founders and their teams.  ✨

Startup bio

Company: SquareOne. 

What they do: Make money epic. SquareOne is an app + debit card + account for kids to learn how to be great with money, with parental oversight! It works as a digital bank account and contactless card for kids, making it easy for parents to pay them for chores and for kids to learn how to earn, save and spend money.

Target market: SquareOne is a New Zealand startup. At the moment, their target market is Kiwi parents of children ready for their first bank account. 

Business model: Business to consumer (B2C). 

The founding team 

We spoke to Jovan Pavlicevic who, along with mate and co-founder Jamie Jermain, started SquareOne and their newest business – Emerge (we’ll cover that one at a later date!). They became friends after meeting in London, played in bands together, and were always on the lookout for a fresh business idea.

After both moving to NZ and having kids they began having conversations about first bank accounts/pocket money, and after looking into it they realised NZ was lagging in an important area - helping kids develop great money habits. SquareOne was born with 5 people, then came Emerge which is now at 26 employees.

The squad behind the marketing

The small and punchy marketing team is headed up by Jody Cruttenden – Marketing and Growth Lead, who we spoke to for the finer campaign details.  

Into the Dragon's ‘Ben’ 

A huge campaign for Jody and SquareOne saw them working with two of NZ’s best known radio personalities – Jono and Ben on The Hits breakfast radio show.

The Dragon’s Ben campaign centred on a competition inspired by the British Dragon’s Den reality TV show, where entrepreneurs pitch their product live to investors (similar to Shark Tank in Australia). 

How it worked

Jody said they had been playing with the idea for a while, knowing kids have a much fresher take on ideas than the often slightly more ‘jaded’ adult demographic. SquareOne is a tool for learning fundamental finance skills, but along that same path, why not tap into the entrepreneurial spirit as well? After toying with the idea of a Dragon's Den concept they shared their thoughts with their PR company, who pitched the idea out to potential media partners. A few months later, Jono and Ben from The Hits got in touch. Both having kids themselves they loved the concept, and thought it was a perfect fit. 

Preparing for launch the team was small – Jody and SquareOne’s Creative Director, Sasha Fowler, worked with their PR company for about 2 months in the lead up. They launched with a Willy Wonka cinema event takeover, inviting 45 influencers and their kids to a viewing, with attendees then sharing across their social media platforms to large audiences. 

The competition then ran for 3 weeks, inviting Kiwi kids to submit their business ideas to The Hits radio station website. From more than 300 entries, a lucky 5 were chosen to pitch their ideas live on air across New Zealand. At the end of the 3 weeks, a winner received a SquareOne prize pack, including $10,000 to help turn their business idea into reality. 

Serious results from a not-so-serious campaign 

Jody and the team were really happy with the campaign results, which included:

  • Unique reach from the influencer campaign of 7,145,589 views
  • Almost $90,000 worth of coverage via PR and radio channels
  • A standout influencer TikTok campaign, which gained SquareOne 8,000 sign ups on day 1 of the campaign, another 5,000 on day 2, and 4,000 on day 3 – a huge  spike in daily sign ups

Jody catches up with the Dragon’s Ben competition winner, the inspirational Ruby Grace, every Wednesday – marking the favourite part of his week as he works closely to help bring her card-based game concept to life, driven by a mission to help children with dyslexia and other literacy challenges.

What they learnt 🧠

Jody’s only ‘regret’ about the Dragon’s Ben campaign is that they had to pick one winner, and couldn’t continue with some of the other amazing ideas that came out of it. Jody and the team strongly believe adults don’t hold the monopoly on bright ideas, which is why he thinks the campaign was received so well. We tend to agree! 

The campaign’s success also showed the team the importance of a marketing mix, including brand building and performance marketing activities. 

Regardless of marketing tactics, Jody says before anything else – talk to your customers; never ever forget to do that. And make sure you do all of the basic stuff really, really well, such as having a strong brand and clear customer-centric messaging across your brand touch points. 

As a founder, Jovan’s biggest takeaway lesson is that while it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the successes, it never truly gets easier (yikes!). You can lull yourself into thinking once you hit a certain milestone it will be straightforward but the reality is, it's just a new set of challenges so it’s best to get comfortable living in that zone and enjoy it!

What’s next for SquareOne? 👀

The team is looking to make the Dragon’s Ben campaign an annual event, hoping to get it onto NZ screens in the future. 

More broadly, the team is also working on their other brand, Emerge – a digital first banking alternative for Kiwi businesses. Together, they’re moving towards becoming NZ’s first proper digital ‘challenger’ bank. We can’t wait to see the journey the team takes and how they get the brands out there in an innovative, exciting way.  

You can find out more about SquareOne on their site, and follow them on TikTok, Linkedin or Instagram to stay across their marketing efforts. ✨

Thanks again to Jovan Pavlicevic (pictured below) and Jody Cruttenden for sharing their learnings. 

Co-founder of SquareOne, Jovan Pavlicevic

Keen for more Startup Marketing Stars stories? See you there.

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