Startup of the Day: ZeroQs, Polish developer of mobile self-checkouts

ZeroQs was established in 2019, by Jarosław Kaczmarczyk and Tomasz Bruliński. The startup is realizing the project titled “Development of mobile self-checkout” with the aim to develop and implement a mobile self-checkout in retail stores to optimize their work. Its main solution is SmartCart, that, according to ZeroQs’ team, can increase the basket value by 25%. The company plans to expand into Western European markets.

In the Startup of the Day column, the founding team of ZeroQs shares more details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.

The Startup of the Day column on AIN.Capital is dedicated to tech projects from all sectors that originated from the CEE countries. If you would like to introduce your project, please fill in the questionnaire.

Tell us about your startup. How does it work?

Our subscription-based SmartCart solution addresses a range of challenges faced by retail chains while dramatically enhancing the consumer shopping experience. Our technology primarily simplifies the shopping process by eliminating the most disliked aspect of in-store shopping – waiting in checkout lines. Customers using our cart simply scan products as they add them to the cart, which is verified by an integrated vision and weight system. As a result, payments are automatically charged to the customer’s account when they leave the store, avoiding the hassle of standing in the checkout line.

This enables retail chains to require fewer staff by automating the sales process. Additionally, it allows for more efficient inventory management, reduces losses and theft, and provides access to unique customer purchasing activity data. With built-in screens, SmartCart can also display personalized advertisements.

On the other hand, retail chain customers gain convenience and time savings. They avoid queues while benefiting from automated service, simple payments, and exceptional shopping experiences.

How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?

Having worked in the industry for many years, we’ve noticed that market solutions, such as self-service systems, are either convenient for customers (e.g., handheld barcode scanners) but risky for stores (lacking theft protection – customers can take items without scanning) or, conversely, secure for stores (e.g., self-checkout tills) but inconvenient for customers (queues at checkouts, repacking products).

Based on our knowledge and experience, we wanted to create a solution that is both convenient for customers and secure for stores. This is how the idea of SmartCart was born.

How long did it take to reach the prototype or MVP? What did you encounter?

The development of our MVP took over two years. These were R&D efforts during which we had to develop a complete technology to monitor the customer’s purchasing process. One of the biggest challenges was creating a weight system that functioned effectively in motion while also being durable and resistant to damage.

When exactly did you launch your product? Or when the launch is planned?

In 2023, the first shops in Poland began utilizing our solution and their number is steadily growing.

Tell us about the startup’s business model. How do you monetize your product?

The product is sold with a margin, and we also offer a subscription model for SmartCart. However, billing details are always individually negotiated with each retail chain.

What are your target markets and consumers?

ZeroQs’ mobile self-checkout technology is designed for the broad spectrum of the retail market. We are not geographically limited, and our solution can be implemented anywhere in the world where there are self-service stores.

If the startup has already launched the product, what are the results: metrics, income, or any clear indicators that can be evaluated.

Over 80% of customers use the smart cart more than once, which shows that they are loyal and primarily satisfied with the value we offer. Thanks to advertisements displayed on SmartCart screens, we increase the basket value by 25%, which is an excellent result.

What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.

Currently, our team consists of 6 members, along with many external partners who support our development. We are continuously growing and seeking new talents for programmer and account manager positions.

Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, the purpose of the investment.

Yes, we are supported by VC funds and have so far secured a pre-seed round of €250,000 from ValueTechSeed for R&D work on our solution, as well as an additional funding round of €1 million from Freya Capital for the commercialization of our solution and further development work.

What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.

Currently, we are rapidly implementing our solution in retail locations across Poland and preparing for expansion into Western European markets.