Home to The Successful Founder Print & Digital Magazine 
Advice Articles, Interviews, Founder & Brand Spotlights 
Home of The Most Advice-Feature-Rich Entrepreneurship Magazine Around

Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Zsuzsa Kecsmar

Zsuzsa Kecsmar is a customer loyalty expert, Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder of Antavo, which provides loyalty program technology for global businesses like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Benefit Cosmetics, Luisaviaroma, Rip Curl and BrewDog,  Zsuzsa is listed as one of the top 100 European women in Tech by Forbes.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I am the Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder of Antavo Loyalty Cloud, a software-as-a-service technology business for running loyalty programs. We are a 100-strong tech company with great customers such as KFC, Benefit Cosmetics, BrewDog and Luisaviaroma. We are industry-agnostic but have very strong customers in fashion and retail.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

The idea came many years ago, and we have had our trials and errors since then, but fundamentally, we wanted to do something sustainable that we could build upon. My co-founder, my husband, ran an agency before, but his pain was that once he made a customer happy, that customer was gone. He wanted to build a business that relied on long-lasting customer relationships.

I was a radio journalist before and had a similar pain – I felt that my work was over immediately after the show aired, and I had little to build upon. We met our other two co-founders, and the four of us founded the company in 2012 in London.

How did you achieve awareness?

We can thank the content we produce for our awareness. Our strategy from the offset has been to inform and educate to build brand awareness, and to this day, we still produce amazing quality content that remains a crucial driver of growth.

On our website, we have everything you would need to work well as a loyalty program manager – because we sell to loyalty program managers and our users are loyalty program managers, everything we create is to help them be successful.

We have over 200 articles on our website and produce an annual report, which has recently launched for this year and already received 3,500 people downloaded in just four weeks. We’ve also recently launched an AI bot – our resources constantly evolve. 

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

Antavo is venture-funded, as we always knew that we wanted to build not a lifestyle business but a large company with VC funding. Our most recent funding round was in 2022, and it was a fantastic year just before the recession that followed, so we received funding on excellent terms.

What are the key successes?

Success is when we can make our customers happy. This occurs when their loyalty program is running well – technically and performing well in terms of ROI – we are successful when our customers are successful.

We encourage them to get creative when developing their strategy and think outside the box so they can shine. Those that do are the ones who build upon the typical spend-to-earn programs, like Rip Curl, a customer that rewards customers for going surfing or KFC, which rewards customers for playing games.

What were/are the challenges, and how have you overcome them?

There are so many challenges; after a while, you get used to encountering challenges that previously would have rocked your world!

Bumps in the road soon become business as usual, whether a significant industry change or a competitor being acquired. Challenges are when things are not going according to plan, like this recent big recession. It impacted our customers and us, so you need to go with your gut, be safe and take calculated risks with your business operations so that you are there when the recession ends.

What are your plans now/for the future?

We want to keep serving our customers with the best technology possible and become the number one loyalty program technology provider globally – it’s very ambitious, but this is our goal.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

For me, being an entrepreneur offers a sense of ownership of my professional journey and of my own time and destiny. If you are willing to go for it, I encourage you to find a way because it’s worth it!

If you are at the beginning of your career, it’s a great opportunity because you don’t know what can go wrong, you don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s a great place to be. Young people can create successful companies – at least according to my experience. It’s great because you have your financial and professional foundations, you know what needs fixing in your industry, and then you can just go for it and fix it.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

My top tips are not rocket science; there’s no silver bullet – persistence and follow-ups.

Firstly, persistence – there will be so many curveballs, but you can still figure things out and you can solve problems. Persistence is all about being the ultimate optimist and keeping a positive mindset even when things get tough.

Secondly, follow-ups – one that is not only useful in entrepreneurship but also in other areas of life. Whenever I meet someone, I follow up with them – whether they’re a webinar attendee or someone I met at a networking event. This personal touch stands out as not many other people do it. It proves you’re willing to go the extra mile to build strong relationships.

Who are the five people who inspire you the most and why?

  • My husband, Attila Kecsmar, is a great leader of our 100-person company and does this seemingly effortlessly. He is a born leader.
  • Marie Curie, the inventor and scientist who went for it in spite of the odds. She received a Nobel prize but was almost left out just because she was a woman.
  • Hande Cilingir, founder of Insider, is a great female entrepreneur. We started in business around the same time, but her company is 10x of ours. Smart!
  • Haley Kalil, model turned content creator, is fun and raw at the same time; she represents current times for me.
  • Phil Shelper, author of the textbook for loyalty programs, helps students, professionals and his own business at the same time by covering an entire domain.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

Calvin Coolidge (30th U.S. President) – “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?