1628 – Connecting the Real World and the Digital World with Beaconstac’s Sharat Potharaju

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the Co-Founder & CEO of Beaconstac, Sharat Potharaju

Sharat Potharaju shared Beaconstac's vision of connecting the physical and digital worlds. Their primary tool? QR codes. These simple yet powerful codes are the core technology behind many large brands and businesses that use Beaconstac's platform to deploy innovative marketing techniques.

These codes have been around since the 90s, initially used for supply chain purposes. However, they experienced a renaissance about ten years ago when iOS and Android made it easier to scan QR codes using a phone's camera. The recent pandemic further propelled the use of QR codes, providing a safe, contactless interaction method.

Sharat explained that creating a simple QR code is free and can be done using various free QR code generators available online. However, Beaconstac offers more than just simple QR code generation. Their robust marketing automation platform allows for more sophisticated features like retargeting, analytics, and persona building.

Sharat drew a parallel between the evolution of email marketing and what Beaconstac aims to achieve with QR code-based marketing. Just as email started as a communication tool and transformed into a robust customer engagement platform, Beaconstac aims to democratize the use of technologies like QR codes. They provide building blocks for marketers and developers to create unique use cases.


Key Points from the Episode:

  • Explanation of Beaconstac‘s vision and use of QR codes for digital customer engagement
  • History of QR codes and their resurgence in popularity
  • Process of generating a QR code and the additional features offered by Beaconstac's platform
  • Comparison of Beaconstac‘s technology to the evolution of email marketing
  • Beaconstac‘s approach to working with larger companies and customization
  • Examples of notable companies Beaconstac has worked with
  • Emphasis on the suitability of Beaconstac‘s platform for businesses of all sizes


About Sharat Potharaju:

Sharat Potharaju is the Co-founder and CEO of Beaconstac, responsible for crafting the overall strategy and execution. Sharat is dedicated to achieving Beaconstac’s vision to enable digital connection with every physical object and place on the planet. 

Before his entrepreneurial career, Sharat spent a few years working in investment banking at Merrill Lynch in New York. Sharat holds a master’s degree in engineering management from Duke University and a bachelor’s in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras.


About Beaconstac:

Beaconstac is a pioneering company that enhances offline commerce and customer interaction through mobile device technology. It provides a platform that aids businesses in attracting customers, generating leads, fostering customer loyalty, and facilitating feedback collection.

Beaconstac harnesses a suite of technologies, including Beacons, Wi-Fi, NFC, and QR codes, paired with consumer mobile devices to deliver value. These innovative solutions have seen widespread adoption in over 40 countries across multiple industries. 

Beaconstac's platform acts as a crucial link, capitalizing on the omnipresence of mobile devices and the rising necessity to develop digital-like intelligence for the physical world. It helps bridge the gap between the physical and digital retail experiences, making it a key player in omnichannel commerce.


Tweetable Moments:

09:20 – “This is not only saving tremendous amount of cost for large brands and businesses but it's also very planet friendly. You know, you're saving trees, you're saving paper. Yeah, that's what excites me.”

15:53 – “I need to act on it right now instead of let me check it out once I finish listening to this podcast. There's a very big difference the timing makes a big difference and that ability to contextually help brands and businesses.”


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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Beaconstac website at

Check out Beaconstac on LinkedIn at

Check out Beaconstac on Twitter at

Check out Beaconstac on Instagram at

Check out Beaconstac on Facebook at

Check out Sharat Potharaju on LinkedIn at

Check out Sharat Potharaju on LinkedIn at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Sharat Potharaju. Sharat, it's so great to have you here. You are the co-founder and CEO of Beaconstac. Now Beaconstac is on the Web at Beaconstac. You're going to need the spelling for that beacon, and then stack is Stack. But again, to our front of this listing right now, you just click around in your podcast app, you'll find where we've got the show notes or direct link to your website.

Josh (00:01:24) - It's so great to have you, Sharat, Thank you for joining us.

Sharat (00:01:27) - Absolutely. Pleasure's all mine. Just lovely to be speaking to you today.

Josh (00:01:31) - So Beaconstac does what?

Sharat (00:01:35) - I mean, there's what we are essentially are I think the vision for Beacons stack is basically to connect the physical world with the digital world. And what I mean by that, the way we kind of explain that as we do digital customer engagement, physical to digital customer engagement, and we use do that using technologies that are there on a mobile device. So it's QR codes, it's NFC, it's Bluetooth geofencing, all that and more are our core technology that we use is the QR code. So if you look around yourself, you see QR codes. If you have large brands and businesses that are deploying QR codes or QR code marketing techniques, then there's a good chance they're using our platform to do it.

Josh (00:02:19) - Yeah. You know, I think about the evolution. Can you talk maybe a little history lesson before I kind of get into what Beaconstac does specifically? Would you mind just giving us a quick little history lesson on QR codes like when they came on the scene? I'm just I just remember I forget how many years ago maybe it was seemed like 6 or 7 years ago or so, kind of when I first noticed.

Josh (00:02:39) - And you had to have special apps in order to scan them. And now, of course, I'll let you give the history lesson.

Sharat (00:02:49) - That would think you were right on spot that QR codes is a technology existed for a pretty long time. I think they've been around from the 90 I'm not mistaken, started in Japan. It was originally used with the intent of of supply chain use cases. That is basically the core idea. But it I think there's kind of a renaissance of QR codes that have really been happening over the last couple of years. So first they came into prominence in the 90s in 2000 and then they kind of figured it in the faded away. Then they try to kind of make a re entrance, I think about ten years back like you mentioned. But the biggest friction there was the fact that you needed a special app to be able to kind of, you know, scan it, etcetera. So the whole idea of connecting physical and digital is something that lots of brands and businesses wanted to do.

Sharat (00:03:42) - They've tried different technologies and that organically or I would say intuitively, iOS and Android, the good folks there realized that the easiest, most seamless way to be able to connect the physical world and the digital world would be through the QR code technology. Yeah, and that's how in 2018 or 2019, Apple made it native to to your phone camera to scan a QR code. So did Android. And as they say that the rest is history that kind of propelled the ability to and discovery for using QR codes. Needless to say, the pandemic finally also also helped the whole idea of being contactless etcetera, made people realize the value for what QR codes can do, and that just kind of mushroomed into something much, much bigger.

Josh (00:04:29) - Yeah, right, right. Okay. So then, you know, how does it work that like to in terms of like generating a QR code? And again, just this is some 101 stuff, right? So let's say that you want to put a QR code on a business card or on a on a mail or on a billboard or on your website or wherever.

Josh (00:04:49) - Right. How does one typically can anyone just create a QR code or do you have to have special software to do that?

Sharat (00:04:57) - It's an open source software. It's a it's an open what do you call it's an open standard. That's the easy way to explain it. And so to be able to create a simple QR code is free. And it's and like you said, anyone can do it. There are hundreds of free QR code generators available there. What we do is basically a built, an entire robust marketing platform marketing automation platform that sits on top of just QR code generation. So think about us as if you want to just create a simple QR code and put it on a on a packaging or put it in your physical location or put on some marketing collateral, it just kind of points to a specific URL and you can basically just read that. But if you want to do anything more sophisticated, you want to be able to retarget, you want to be able to collect gather analytics, you want to be able to build personas.

Sharat (00:05:52) - Who are the people who are essentially interacting with your product or with the with their service? That's the kind of stuff that a platform like Beaconstac does. But going back to your original question, to be able to do this, it's pretty it's a it's free if you just want to get started and it's it's a very easy way to just go online search for beacon start for a QR code generator, and you will see lots of solutions out there.

Josh (00:06:18) - Yeah. So, so someone could go to Beaconstac right now and do you have a I thought I saw where you actually have a free QR code generator. Yeah. So I'm on here. Oh look at this. So I'm looking, I'm at Beaconstac. Com hover over I the way I found is I hovered over product and this is QR code generator free click on that punch in a website looks like you can there's guys you can customize the design that's really cool Well that's great. Yeah absolutely. I love that they kind of open sourced it but but of course this is just the basic application of this Beaconstac allows for some pretty, pretty amazing customization.

Josh (00:07:01) - Talk about where you can go and like maybe how particularly, you know, again, business leaders, business owners can really take QR codes to the next level.

Sharat (00:07:13) - Absolutely. So I think think one way to think about QR codes. First thing I think just taking a step back is QR codes have kind of become an extension of everyone's marketing strategy, irrespective who you are. And I think the easiest way for me to be able to for you to imagine what QR codes can do is think about them as a call to action in the physical world, in the in the digital world, you have a URL where you click on a URL. That's kind of your call to action. In the physical world, the QR code is really become a call to action. So you can scan a QR code and make the destination whatever you want it to be. It could be your website, it could be a microsite, it could be just your Instagram handle, it could be a form where you're capturing the leads for a particular sale that you want to make.

Sharat (00:08:00) - It could be just collecting survey or feedback. You could be collecting reviews on TripAdvisor. It could be anything under the sun depending on contextual and depending on where they're essentially present. And I think the beauty about QR codes is that they are industry agnostic. They're organized agnostic. What I mean by that is we have really small mom and pop stores, small businesses, restaurants, bars, using us for, you know, menus, for collecting reviews, for collecting feedback, for loyalty programs, etcetera, all the way from that to pretty large enterprises like like Revlon and Fedex and Chick-Fil-A and large brands and businesses like JP Morgan using it for vastly different use cases. So it honestly, it's been growing pretty phenomenally. And I think the more important thing is the use cases are really limited by your own creativity and innovation. We have people doing it for different use cases. Like I mentioned, there are people who are doing this to, you know, in many ways the thing the use case that really excites me particularly is the fact that QR codes in many ways are replacing the physicality of paper.

Sharat (00:09:20) - So wherever you are actually giving physical collateral, maybe it could be a menu card, it could be a digital business, cards and conferences or networking. It could be just marketing collateral. When you walk into your neighborhood branch in a financial center, all that is basically replacing by scanning a QR code, it opens a business card, you scan a QR code, it essentially opens up marketing collateral or a direct mailer. So I think what's really happening is it's this is not only saving tremendous amount of cost for large brands and businesses, but it's also very planet friendly. You know, you're saving trees, you're saving paper. Yeah, that's what excites me.

Josh (00:09:59) - Yeah. So do you think that we have maxed out on the capabilities of QR codes or. What I'm asking is, I know. I just wanted to get your reaction there. What's on the horizon? Where else do what? What else do you think is coming down the road in terms of like what what's possible here? You know, I've seen some and I want to ask you about this.

Josh (00:10:21) - No, I'm just going to start there because I want to let me know Let me point this out. So I've also seen some things now, they don't involve QR codes specifically, but they're just kind of this augmented reality. Right. Where I think, what was it, 13 crimes wine. It's got like, you know, where you put your phone over the bottle of wine with Snoop Dog and then you're watching the screen and he starts talking to you and like, you know, I think how cool that could be in terms of like what that QR code opens and how you're able to interact together. I'm sorry, I don't mean to like cede some ideas here, but I've just seen that like I think R is going to be pretty, pretty cool, especially when we look at, you know, the stuff that Apple is coming out with, you know, with the visor, with the glass, you know, the glass, whatever, the goggles, the ski goggles, whatever we call them.

Sharat (00:11:12) - Good Apple vision. Yeah. No, absolutely. I think there is no doubt about the fact that there is a huge amount of use cases that are that are that we are discovering ourselves. And one of the the the things that I find very exciting about what we do is we're pretty horizontal in terms of the use case that we build. Right. And think an analogy that I can give you is think about email marketing, right? Email originally started as a communication tool between individual peer to peer. And over the years, email has become a very robust loyalty retention platform to be able to engage with customers for brands and businesses. And that evolution that you see, that democratization of email converting itself from a communication tool to becoming a very robust customer engagement platform has happened because fantastic products like and platforms like MailChimp and SendGrid, etcetera came and did that. We are doing exactly the same thing, but we are doing that for QR code based marketing, right? So we are in so many ways the MailChimp plus hundred of QR code marketing and that's really what we're trying to do, democratize the ability of using technologies like QR codes and help you build the use case that you want.

Sharat (00:12:28) - We want to be able to fundamentally build that, give you those building blocks and then you can come and strap on any specific use case that you have in mind. And I think we're just getting started right now.

Josh (00:12:40) - Beaconstac has worked with Pepsi, Toyota, Revlon, WWF, the World Wildlife Federation, Amazon Marriott, Deloitte Digital, New York Times, Nestlé. You've worked with the biggest and the best of the best, but you work with businesses and individuals of all stripes. What are some of those higher end engagements? So that kind of more of those enterprise level solutions that you can work with that that might involve a little bit more strategy and thought can they work with, you know, can can a larger company or someone that really needs something a little bit more unique and custom? Do you have advisors that can kind of help with strategy?

Sharat (00:13:26) - Um, yes and no. I think the reason I say that is we don't have a specific services team per se. We are a very self-service out of the box platform and solution that any marketer developer can start using right out of the box.

Sharat (00:13:41) - Having said that, we also understand that this is a vertical that really is blossoming itself right now. So in many ways we keep our eyes and ears very close to what the customers want. And so we have a very proactive customer success team. We have a very proactive product team which is basically talking to customers on a daily basis and understanding the use cases that they're trying to build. And every time we see a trend, we kind of kind of go and productize that. So we have a very customer led product development philosophy here, and that's really what helped us be on top and be ahead of the game in terms of the kinds of features and the kinds of product that we're really building in this vertical.

Josh (00:14:24) - Yeah. Yeah. So many uses. You know, one thing I'd recommend to our listener is go to Beaconstac, Look, click on learn, click on solution mainly so you can see a lot of these really clever implementations. But essentially it's like anywhere that you want to connect with customers, audience partners.

Josh (00:14:48) - ET cetera. You know, you can you can use a QR code and people will connect with you. Some people love to, you know, love to type in manually u r or maybe other people would rather just, you know, kind of use their phone now, you know, like think about, well, wait a minute. So, Sharat, I could ask you a question here. So let's say on the podcast, for example, we have the ability to use QR codes in imagery like certainly on cover art and stuff, and we could link that to anywhere, right? We could. We could do anything with that.

Sharat (00:15:28) - Absolutely. For example, on the on the background right now, if you're talking on Zoom, instead of showing your website up my, you should have a QR code.

Josh (00:15:41) - Oh, boy.

Sharat (00:15:42) - QR code. It directly takes you to your website or in particular, it can take you to a particular form which basically lets you the person, fill up the form. I love what Josh is saying.

Sharat (00:15:53) - I need to act on it right now instead of let me check it out. Once I finish listening to this podcast, there's a very big difference. The timing makes a big difference and that ability to contextually help brands and businesses, what helps us?

Josh (00:16:07) - All right, I'm going to do it. And you need to do it since you're the you're the CEO of this company.

Sharat (00:16:13) - Absolutely.

Josh (00:16:13) - You probably have a background with it on there. I'm teasing you a little.

Sharat (00:16:16) - I do. I do. I do. I was I was being a little shy. And I'm not trying to explicitly sell myself.

Josh (00:16:22) - Oh, no, that's great. That's great. Hey, also, congrats on the series. A, that that news broke at the beginning of this year. That's exciting. A lot of any new verticals that you're excited about launching into or is it mainly just broad awareness for everybody?

Sharat (00:16:39) - Yeah, I think I think we we raise capital because we are growing really fast and we realize that this is going to be a multi-billion dollar market out there.

Sharat (00:16:49) - And we wanted to just kind of accelerate a go to market. But in addition, think one of the things we realized also, like I mentioned earlier, is that the use cases that we are seeing has been growing exponentially. Right? And every person basically comes up with their own use cases. Can we add this on a Zoom background? Can we basically add this on business card? Can we add this on marketing collateral? Hey, can we think about using this perspective? We are right on an RFP which basically wants to use it for supply chain, which is a pretty large CPG brand. So everybody is thinking about their own specific use cases. So we realized that to be able to be on top of the market, to be ahead of the game, to be able to productize that the level the market is really moving, you need to be able to have some resources and capital and that's the reason we raised.

Josh (00:17:34) - Yeah. All right. Beaconstac. Someone that's been listening to our conversation right now, really simple.

Josh (00:17:41) - Just go to the website And what would you recommend somebody do? How do they just kind of get started? Particularly, let's say they're an organization, they've got a couple of hundred employees and they've got some big marketing plays and they're like, Yeah, you know, we've dabbled with QR codes before, but nothing real custom, right? It was just maybe just a simple QR code link to a URL and they're really interested in seeing what's possible. Where do they go from here?

Sharat (00:18:06) - I would say just go to Beaconstac dot com QR code generator. You'll see that even on the top header, you go to the QR code generator, you can sign up for a free trial. It's 14 days. Our entire completely all souped up platform that's readily available for anyone to get started with. And that 14 day free trial, I can promise you it will completely open up your mind to all the possibilities. Every use case that you did not think of will start opening up in your mind. And we are fully full and end to end solution.

Sharat (00:18:35) - So you can build microsites. You can build it on one page websites. You just kind of remove the need for any external dependencies. And once you start seeing the analytics, you're pretty hooked because most people start very skeptical using I don't know if anybody is going to use this. I don't know if I'm going to get any leads. I don't know if any scans are going to happen. I don't know who does this. And then they're pretty amazed in a few days on how much engagement they get. And that really helps them convert to a customer and kind of add value to their own business.

Josh (00:19:05) - Yeah. Yeah, I love it. Awesome. All right. Sharat Potharaju. It's been great again founder, co-founder and CEO Sharat, thank you so much for joining us. Wonderful conversation.

Sharat (00:19:25) - Absolutely. Just thank you so much for having me. It was fantastic talking to you.

Josh (00:19:35) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest.

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