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Episode 23 with Gr. 5 & 6 Students from Argyle School
Meet Paul Burch from Echo Lotto, a Canadian company changing the way charities sell tickets for raffles during events. Using smart-phone technology, this company aims to raise more money through raffles with less effort.
Barb McGrath 0:00
Welcome tonight views The Secret Life of entrepreneurs on 91.3 FM CJ tr Regina community radio. We’re live with local business owners. We’re live with local business owner who’s making a difference in y qR. Stay tuned to learn their secrets about what makes them tick. What helped them become successful, and their role as a leader in our business community. You’re listening to your host, Barb McGrath, business owner, founder of get found on Google live, and marketing expert who helps businesses succeed with ease using their website, social media and online reputation. Our guest today is Paul Burch from Echo Lotto, and he’s going to help us understand how he’s working with community groups to help them earn more revenue with less volunteers. And of course, community groups relies so heavily on community volunteers for their success. So welcome, Paul. Thanks. Glad to have you here. So let’s start off tell us a little bit about yourself and Lcho lotto
Paul Burch 1:06
Awesome. Well, thanks for having me today. And I get to an opportunity to talk about myself so seldom, and I love it. So it’s nice to be invited along. Eco lotto is a new company in town. We’ve been operational for about six months now. But it’s been in the work for about five years, what we’ve done is we’ve created a platform that allows qualified organizations, charities, nonprofit groups, community groups to run SAS, liquor and gaming approved, online 5050s. So we have been running for the last couple of months, we’ve been acquiring some new customers, we’ve been fine tuning the software and trying to figure out how we can do exactly that. We want to help want to help groups raise more money with less effort.
Barb McGrath 1:49
You know, and that’s an exciting concept, because all of the volunteer work that I’ve done, all of the work that I’ve had an opportunity to do kind of at the community level, it takes a ton of time and effort for everyone involved to raise these funds, right?
Paul Burch 2:05
Absolutely. And do for these nonprofit groups of volunteers are one of their biggest resources. And you end up with a small group of people doing a ton of work. And anything that we can do to help alleviate some of the pressure on those volunteers gives organization opportunity to spend time on what their their core is, instead of corralling volunteers, they can handle whatever it is that they they were formed to do
Barb McGrath 2:28
Exactly whatever their core business is, you made an interesting comment about the volunteers that are helping, it’s usually the same volunteers coming back time and time again, and people start to get fatigued.
Paul Burch 2:39
Yeah, no, I’m not. I’ve seen that to been a part of that. Through the years you, you get involved with organizations. And part of that was the it really opened my eyes immediately to what what we can accomplish it with, with our technology. I’ve spent a lot of time splitting tickets over the years, tearing tickets and counting buckets full of change. And so in my friend Jared came to me and said, look, I think we’ve got an idea here. I could immediately see the value of that song.
Barb McGrath 3:07
Excellent. Okay, so give us a little bit of that history. Where did this come from? Was it born out of something besides volunteer fatigue?
Paul Burch 3:16
Ya know, the story takes its beginnings in about 2013. My company Omni online builds solutions for for businesses. And so a friend of mine knew that we were in that space. And he came into my office one day and said, my kid was at the football game today and asked why we can’t buy 5050 tickets on our phone. And I basically told him to shut the door and tell no one have this idea. And we researched it a little bit. Because we thought this is we’re onto something here. At the time, it was illegal. That wasn’t being done. phones were being adopted for more and more stuff. But at the time current Canadian Criminal Code required that you have a pay per ticket and so you’d started to see those handheld printers in in the stadiums and stuff. They were still just using technology to create paper tickets in an easier manner. So we more or less shelved the idea at that point because an app wasn’t going to be legal we took a look at it and then kept an eye on it and when the last looked like it was going to be changing we jumped back into it and put a couple of years worth of effort into creating the software and the jurisdiction all the legal side of things too. You can’t You can’t just set up shop and run raffles and online lotteries and so on that’s a that’s a big no no so we were able to work within the SAS liquor gaming’s purview there and become get eco certified as a lottery vendor. And we managed to go live with our first raffle in June this year.
Paul Burch 4:48
So okay, so so not even a full year ago then.
No, we are we are in our infancy and the the response has been great. The community, everybody. We talked to sees the upside to this, I think we’ve all been like 5050s is a Western Canadian thing. And it was part of the part of the journey was realized. And I’m talking to people all over the world about this opportunity. And some of them are looking at me like I do not understand what you’re talking about, really.
Barb McGrath 5:14
So if you would want to Ontario and the Maritimes, and you talk about 5050, they sort of know
Paul Burch 5:20
Eastern Canada is definitely catching up. But outside of North America, it was a new concept. And I found that really, really interesting because to me, it’s just such a straightforward thing. Exactly. You get half of the pot. But try and explain that to some people, and they just weren’t getting it. So hey, I was entertaining. But as a Western Canadian thing that it fits right, you get to participate in something fun, that adds a little excitement to the event, and you’re helping a charity.
Barb McGrath 5:51
So tell us tell us some of those stories. Like I’m trying to imagine, you know, trying to explain the 5050 to someone who can’t relate to a Saturday morning hockey tournament, and every parent there buys a 5050? Because heck that pays for the trip. Oh, man, right?
Paul Burch 6:04
Yeah. When it really was like that you’re talking to somebody and they’re asking, so I buy the ticket. But if I win, I only get half. It’s like, Well, no, well, how do I know what the prizes? Well, the prize is bigger, depending on how many people buy tickets. And so yeah, there was a little bit of just trying to scare people and realize that, you know, I’m speaking. I don’t know what I’m doing here. But yeah, it’s it’s a it’s a fairly unique concept here. Okay, the thing we found out was, it is jurisdictional, every single province, you know, diving into no idea, right? You go to take a hockey game, throw some money out at you, yeah, you hope to win, not thinking about the jurisdictional requirements and that, okay, gambling is covered under Canadian criminal code. So this is a we had a lot of confusion in the early days over what was going to be allowed. What wasn’t a lot, you know, why it wasn’t allowed was not allowed, because the technology or was it not allowed? Because the rules? Were the rules gonna change?
Barb McGrath 7:03
What’s so right. And rules are slow to change. When it’s something like legislation. That’s not something that happens overnight?
Paul Burch 7:09
No, no, definitely not. You know, that was kind of been our joke from the beginning is like, Oh, you know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna just all we just need to do is change the way the law works, and should have that figured out by Friday or so.
Barb McGrath 7:22
So today’s Wednesday, by the way, so 48 hours, no problem.
Paul Burch 7:25
So no, there’s a there’s a lot that goes into changing those rules. And you know, what, as much as people like to hate on lawyers and the system in general, a lot of these rules have been put in place to protect the charities. And that’s something that we’ve found as we get involved here. You know, the the integrity of gaming allows people to buy car buy with confidence, and that isn’t like this is an important revenue stream for charity. If we just allow people to get in willy nilly, then the consumers lose confidence.
Barb McGrath 7:55
Exactly. Yeah. Well, my story and I stick to stick to it, it’s my story and stick into it. One of the things that I find particularly interesting is, even if the charity made the exact same amount of money, as they did in a previous raffle, like to the penny, they actually probably save a lot and end up ahead of the game, simply because you’ve got, you know, that the staff time, the volunteer time, all of that is so much easier for those that are involved. Plus, you’re not fatiguing your volunteers, you can save them for the big stuff, the meaningful stuff then, right?
Paul Burch 8:32
Absolutely. And that’s been something that the organizations that we’re talking to have asked us about, they’ve got volunteers that want to be involved. Sure. And so it’s not like you’re, you know, you take somebody that wants to be involved. And that’s been their thing to, you know, trudge up and down the aisles selling 5050 tickets, and they like Jade, and you want you want those people involved? Absolutely. We’re not taking positions where these are volunteers, you’re gonna cut loose and say, Thanks, we don’t need you. These are bodies, you can reallocate and have them do other things as well, while still getting the traction out of your revenue stream, right. So with our online system, the other thing is that you’re extending your reach, right? You don’t have to, you don’t have to chase people down and provide tickets or books that the administrative side of it becomes a lot easier.
Barb McGrath 9:18
Well, and then the cost side as well, because if you’re not printing something, you’re not needing to buy paper and you don’t need a handheld printer. And right, so this is 100% on my phone, I can go to an event they’re selling a raffle ticket, does legislation still require that I be at the location to purchase the raffle ticket?
Paul Burch 9:36
It does and that’s a that’s been one of the sticking points for sure. Is that the the way this operates with the reason that this can operate is because of our geo fence so we can tell where you are and the transit sketch one. And that’s been that’s taken some consumer training because people don’t like that. Most people you know, people value privacy and so letting them know that look. We’re not here to follow your And your phone for weeks at a time, we just need to know you’re where you are when you buy the ticket. And that’s all we need to know. But that’s a bit of a learning curve for for the consumer. But again that and there’s there’s lots of reasons behind wanting people because that was one of the questions that I asked SAS liquor and gaming. So why would we not want money from outside the province flowing into the province for our for our charities? That’s right. And they’re more or less worried about the pressure, you know, they’re worried that more money is going to flow out than is going to flow in right we’ve got a finite pool of people here. And okay, if you have an opportunity to support the Blue Jays million dollar 5050 or the Prince Albert Regina rescue, and if the Prince Albert Cat Rescue 5050, right, you know, people only have so many dollars to spend. So the the money coming in from the province, or in from out of the province versus money going out of the province. They feel that that’s an important thing that we need to protect. And so yes, the very long answer to your question is that we make sure that you’re in the province to purchase your tickets
Barb McGrath 11:01
Exactly. Is that all you have to be though is in the province? So for example, if you were doing a raffle sale at a United Way event, can I be anywhere in the province and purchase a ticket? Or do I have to be at the United Way event is actually tied to the license?
Paul Burch 11:15
So it does depend on who’s hosting the event and what type of event it is what kind of raffles being held? So the short answer is from a technology standpoint, from a licensing standpoint, if you’re running a province wide raffle, you just have to be in the province, okay, if you’re a local event you having a you know, if you’re the the Regina Humane Society, something like that, if you’re running a Regina specific charity, I would need to be more restricted to Regina. And some of these stadium events and stuff are restricted to the the actual location of the facility. So it’s a lot more to do with the license that’s being applied for which the license depends on the organization that’s applying for the licenses or the license.
Barb McGrath 11:57
Okay. A couple of minutes ago, when you spoke, you talked about that geo fence, maybe explain for our listeners what a geo fence is because I know lots of people won’t be familiar with that term.
Paul Burch 12:08
Yeah, well, in layman’s terms, which is all I speak in, because I leave the technical stuff to my technical guys. But basically, we just need to know where you are. So there’s a variety of ways to do that. You’re bouncing your signal off cell towers, you’re bouncing IP off your Wi Fi address, you’re giving you geo codes, you’re you’re your mapping locations. So basically, we just need to know where you are. And our system is set up so that when you click our allow location button, we read that so now we know where your which if I might do a little education piece here, this is something that we figured out. With a majority of phones, there’s actually two places in your phone that you need to turn the location services on or off, yeah, on or off. And most people get as far as the first level. Basically, you can tell your phone, whether you want location services on or off, and most people know that. And then within that there’s a further level where you can tell each individual app. Ours is a we’re not an app, we’re using a browser to access a website. So if your browser is set to No, even if you phone set to Yes, then you’re not gonna be able to play. So that has been something that an education piece that we’re trying to get as many people participating in these raffles as possible. So if you have any questions on that, you can shoot us an email, I can walk you right through it. And if I have to walk every person in the province through it, so be, but you’ll have something on your website currently to explain it. Yeah, we did. We had to, in the early raffles, putting up a little education piece on ours, our social, facebook, facebook and stuff.
Barb McGrath 13:38
So you know what, I think that’s quite common with the technology that we use now. Because both with Wi Fi and data, it’s similar, you can turn it off at the highest level, which we did one time when we traveled south. And we didn’t turn it off at that next level, because in fact, even the provider that we had at the time you read on their website, so we followed the instructions, came home got a bit of a bill. It wasn’t too bad, because to be honest, we were in a resort and it had Wi Fi. So we were relying on Wi Fi. But came home got this bill and wait a second, like we turn this off. So when I picked up the phone in called, oh, well, you forgot to turn it off here and here and here. And I thought, Well, that wasn’t any instructions. But it’s learned the hard way, which so often happens.
Paul Burch 14:23
Yeah, that sounds like sounds like he got away with one because I’ve had people with very expensive lessons on your data off as you travel the world. No, I was down at a conference in Minneapolis and thought I was on the Wi Fi and my Wi Fi had timed out. And I downloaded some app that the guy was talking about and yeah, some free app cost me like $180.
That’s great, great use of data. So the other thing is that a lot of times these apps that you download, they ask for permission. And if you don’t give them permission, you can still use the app, you just don’t get the full experience. That’s right. You can’t use our app. You can’t use our process or program if you if we don’t know where you are. Right. That’s just The rules, the rules behind it is a bit of an education thing that we’re trying to help people get get past and most people the first time that they use it, they figure it out, they understand that we’re not, we’re not tracking them around and, and they don’t they learn where to turn it on and off and away you go once people have it on, so.
Barb McGrath 15:16
Okay, that’s awesome. So tell us about some of the events that you’ve been involved with? Or tell us what the ones that you can can talk about? I don’t know.
Paul Burch 15:23
Yeah. Yeah. So we’ve basically, we’ve been in onboarding clients as fast as we can, running a few test events. The first event that went live was the Regina pride festival this summer. And it was, we were so close to the line, we weren’t sure whether we’re gonna be live weren’t sure where they’re gonna get licensed for miniatures. So there was no advertising. Nobody knew what I was meeting with the committee about their This is their big 13th anniversary this year, and they’ll be running another event. So kind of our primary goal, working with the organization is yours, let people know that we’re working with the organization.
Barb McGrath 15:57
Paul Burch 15:58
Having the event itself was a great technical test for us with the software worked and performed as required. We worked with the gear up with john Ryan Foundation, they run a raffle or 5050 to help raise money for equipment for kids to play football. Again, a very, was an excellent test run, there was our second raffle that that went live. And that we kind of got a taste of what people are going to want when they’re out in the elements, right? It’s you test you pressure test, the software, user test everything. But until you’re riding in a golf cart at 35, above with a guy who’s had six beers, and you’re trying to explain to him, he’s got to turn on his iPhone location services, credit card to buy a ticket, then you don’t you know, you you kind of thought everything. So the the event itself again, excellent. And we’re looking forward to work with them again next year.
Barb McGrath 16:51
Mm hmm. Okay, but from a using test user testing perspective. I mean, I think we’re all fairly familiar with user testing, right, getting people to click all the links and try all that. Right. But you’re right, send it out in a golf cart. And you know, somebody had a few to drink.
Paul Burch 17:07
Yeah, yeah. So that, you know, you really want to really want to, you don’t know what you don’t know until you don’t know, right.
Barb McGrath 17:15
Till you find out what you didn’t know.
Paul Burch 17:17
Yeah. So yeah. So that was a it was a fun, fun afternoon. But But, you know, our team has just been iterating. And working. And these guys are just just awesome. And so everything that we do has been a learning experience, which, when we talk about the The Secret Life of entrepreneurs, that’s the first I wasn’t, I wasn’t sure if I was able to tell people I was coming on this show. I wasn’t sure I was secret. We were being about this. But yeah, I mean, you saw how I told everybody, everybody, so away we go. But that’s it. That’s it, right? Like you started with an idea, not too much else, and you just decided to go for it. And that’s the type of thing where everything that you find turns into a new challenge to overcome.
Barb McGrath 17:59
Paul Burch 18:00
That’s, that’s kind of what you got to do. And so what we like to do is we we don’t like to make the same mistake twice. Yeah, we got to learn fast, right. And so that’s all fast.
Yeah, solve problems quickly fix things. So that’s been that part of it has been, I mean, that’s fun. That’s if you don’t get kicked from that part, then it’s not the
Barb McGrath 18:19
It’s not for you. Exactly.
Paul Burch 18:22
But on each one we go with the problems are getting solved. And it’s been great. And so now, we just concluded one, with the United Way. And we’re seeing our pots start to go up. And this is a this is a long term thing for us, right? We’re not, we’re not in it to have somebody show up and, you know, sell this off to some Silicon Valley company, Phil, right. This is something that we’re looking for long term relationships, where every year it’s gonna get easier for them, I think is a big advantage to the online version as well. If you sell 100 tickets to 100 people at your event, next year, you got to find each one of those hundred people and sell them a ticket to your event. That’s right, their system. If people buy a ticket, now they know that you’re out there, and it becomes a lot easier just to resell in following events.
Barb McGrath 19:10
So so if I buy a ticket through the system, right now, you’ll have a record of my email address because you’ve produced a receipt for me, correct?
Paul Burch 19:17
That’s correct. Yeah. And actually, you get emailed your ticket. So the alter the privacy laws and castle and stuff like that, that’s very important aspect of it, to participate in a raffle that’s licensed with the licenses that we’re going to need to create, you have to have that basic information. And you’ll notice that you see the same thing. If you’re at a hockey rink, if you’re at a multi day raffle. They have to collect some basic information from you so they can contact you if you win, right. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. And this is a we’re not we’re not building up lists that we can sell off. We’re creating a list for the charity, that particular care.
And basically, the the main function of that is to make sure that if you win that they can get hold. Yeah. The other side of that is with the online raffle, you know your pay per click It doesn’t start buzzing in your pocket if you win. No, it doesn’t. But the online version, once the raffles over the winner is aware, so.
Barb McGrath 20:09
So I’m curious, in your your research. So you guys initially had this idea? And I’ll tell you where I’m going with my question. So you had the initial idea? Oh, it sounded kind of interesting. Let’s look at it a bit. In your research. Did you ever stumble upon the amount of money in unclaimed pot?
Paul Burch 20:27
Yes. Is it huge, ridiculous?
Barb McGrath 20:30
Yeah. See, that’s what I would have got to because you buy a ticket. And you misunderstand what the announcer said, or you leave, and you forget to go back to the website The next day, or you go back, but it’s not there yet.
Paul Burch 20:44
And I think of a couple of different instances. And so and I’ll come back to the unclaimed spots in a second. But anecdotally, I was at an arena. And I was watching the 5050. And two years from the time we started this until the time that we went live was the most painful to be at any event I was I wasn’t able to enjoy a hockey game wasn’t able to enjoy a football game. I’m just watching them thinking why aren’t we live? Why aren’t we live? And I’m at a hockey rink, and the winters drawn, and, and it was, okay, well, a winner is 1886681. Okay, everybody tickets up in the air, they’re in the garbage. And one goes, Yeah, we won. And off it goes. And, you know, watch them walk around, and they get there. And his ticket was upside down. The winner was actually date 1811 we got people digging in the garbage is we got Oh, wow. You know, there’s there’s there’s error that comes with that. And you think about big events, where you’ve got lots of people and you’ve got alcohol, and you’ve got high winds, and you know, the tickets being lost. And with an online system like ours, even if somebody somebody bought a ticket with their phone and drops their phone and a bit iffy. On Monday, they can login to the route, they’re gonna get an email on Monday and say, Hey, sorry about your sorry about your mom.
Barb McGrath 22:07
But the plus side you want. Exactly. You can no pay for your phone. Yeah.
Paul Burch 22:11
So but when we were looking at this and taking a look at unclaimed pots, because there’s a lot of rules around the licensing and how you have to handle those. And the majority of the time that money goes back to the charities. And so we talked to the charities about that because I was concerned, you’re not gonna have any unclaimed pots. So what does that do to the revenue generating? Right? Yeah. And the overwhelming response from the charities was we don’t want that money like it’s, we the 5050 is successful because people can when people get when that we’re not that, you know, there’s no winner, then people aren’t going to want to participate. So
Barb McGrath 22:48
Paul Burch 22:50
Mathematically as well, like we don’t know if you’ve got an unclaimed pot. Sure that money can go back into charity or be rolled over into another. There’s, there’s there’s rules around what can be done with it. But at the end of the day, you’re not getting winners and people aren’t going to play.
Barb McGrath 23:02
No, they’re not going to keep playing. And I would think that there’s a, like almost a waiting period on that money, where even if it’s unclaimed, it still has to be earmarked for a winner that can show up in what, 30 days, 90 days, like I’m sure there’s something but but even if you went and knocked on the door, you know, 91 days and the license said, you know, you have to honor it for 90. The charity is crazy not to honor it. So that money has to sit there Wait a while.
Paul Burch 23:30
Yeah, no, absolutely. And you know, what the rules around that, again, the the red tape and administration and the licensing nightmare is to protect from that exact scenario, right? The rules are very clear, the charity has to keep the money and for the length of time, those policies have to be displayed within your raffle. So slj is doing everything I can to protect people from themselves. But yeah, that’s exactly it. And that was a real concern when we looked up and realized that some of these charities because the other thing is you have to report what what’s happening with the raffle. So we did a pretty quick search and you know, you’ve searched the major ones, and you see the kind of dollars that have been thrown around, and stuff that’s been unclaimed, and we realize that this could be a concern because if you don’t if you never have another unclaimed pot what how does that affect things? Right?
Barb McGrath 24:19
That’s right, Paul, believe it or not, we’ve got about one minute left. Can you share your contact details with everyone? Where do they find eco lotto? How do they find you if they have questions? How can they find you?
Paul Burch 24:30
Yeah, no. echolotto.com that’s EC h. o. We’re looking to reach out and reverberate across the communities. So echolotto.com we got a contact form there and you can find me on Facebook, reach me on my email, give me a call whatever you whatever you need. We’d love to talk to you. And yeah, I sure appreciate your time today. Part of this is great.
Barb McGrath 24:52
Absolutely. And it was Pleasure to meet you. We’ve talked in email on the phone you talked many ways but like this is actual face to face human go Dr. Smith Great. Thank you very much. Awesome. Well, thanks for being here. All right, then. We are pretty much at a time. So I want to thank you the listeners for joining us here today on 91.3 FM CJ tr, Regina community radio for night views The Secret Life of entrepreneurs. And thank you so much, Paul, for joining us today. Tell us telling us about the new technology and teaching us how to turn the location settings off.
Remember that one that the location settings in the data settings that actually might be the most important part of the conversation. And this is our last show for 2018. I will be back on January 9 for our first show of 2019. So while I should be here on December 26, the station has graciously allowed me to enjoy that day with my family. So you can look to hear a recording from either Sherry or myself on that day. If you would like to be a guest on the show, please reach out directly to my email at barb@abovethefoldcanada. Or you can also find us on Facebook and Instagram at the same address. So Above the Fold Canada. Don’t forget when you see the event on the Facebook page, you can also submit questions in advance, and we will happily ask and answer those questions during the show. I’m your host Barb McGrath, local business owner and today I’m going to be a Google evangelist again. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. Sherry will be with you next Wednesday. And I’m not sure about January 2 or third, whichever is the Wednesday. Remember, you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.