Tech City: Scanning app to further QR code tech

Quikkly Founders: Ken Johnstone and Fergal Walker

Quikkly Founders: Ken Johnstone and Fergal Walker - Credit: Archant

Shoreditch is fast becoming the UK’s first ‘scannable’ neighbourhood thanks to a company that puts a twist on QR tags - the odd-looking bar codes that people are supposed to scan with their phones. .

More than 80 businesses have signed up to Quikkly, a Tech City start-up which has produced a unique app that allows people to instantly unlock actions online by scanning Action Tags.

Customers can see the tag and scan it to complete the action in the apps they already have, for example, scanning a ‘Listen on Spotify’ tag to play the song in the Spotify app, ‘Follow on Twitter’ or ‘Find on Google Maps’.

Through Action Tags businesses are enabling customers to leave reviews, follow them socially and connect to WiFi instantly.

Ken Johnstone, a co-founder of Quikkly, said: “Quikkly was born of frustration. I was running a software company and had experimented with QR codes but I hadn’t got anywhere with them because people don’t get them.

“QR codes were designed 20 years ago by Toyota to manage parts on a production line. I feel a bit sorry for the QR code; it was misused and much maligned. We wanted to fix that!

“My business partner Fergal Walker worked at Facebook Europe and his observation was that Facebook logos and calls to action were printed everywhere in the physical world but it is not easy to interact with them.”

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The added element to Quikkly is that anyone can create the tags in the app so artists, small business owners or bloggers can put people in touch with their work at the swipe of a hand.

Ken, 42, said: “There are so many companies that have tried QR, the desire is definitely there. We speak to people who don’t understand what will happen and very often it is something unexpected and just a bit rubbish so they don’t know whether they work or not.

“We wanted to do something that was different and super simple. We designed the product so that anyone can create an action tag in seconds and the idea is immediately obvious; you know what will happen when you press ‘Follow’ on Twitter.”

Businesses can also take out a subscription which allows them to see the gender and age of the people scanning their codes.

Tracey Neuls, a shoe designer with a shop on Redchurch Street said: “Quikkly is like a modern day interactive sticky note - fast and efficient.”

Abdul Magid, manager of restaurant Bengal Village on Brick Lane, added: “We always tell people to write a review on TripAdvisor, so being able to link them to it with a Quikkly tag helps our business a lot.”

Ken also said that working at the Google CAmpus in Bonhill Street helped further the business.

He said: “It’s well known that there is a buzz around that part of town. There are a lot of tech start ups and you definitely hear ideas. and the tech hub has been great. Fergal and I are both product people and we needed to find a lawyer, and accountant – there were lots of challenges that we were facing that many other companies in the building had already faced so it was easy to get guidance.”

Quikkly is available on Android and iOS.

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