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Marjorie Leonidas – ‘The Queen of Wi-Fi’ and new Taggstar Managing Director

Dan Ginger Monday, 15 December 2014.

Marjorie Leonidas arrived in Hong Kong following her degree at the University of California Berkeley, with a suitcase and a vision. 12 years later and she had grown a successful business, with 60 employees, offices in Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and working with companies such as Esprit and Walmart. Marjorie built her garment agency business from scratch – facing the challenges of working in Asia as a young female, and in penetrating the fashion industry. She since exploited the dot-com boom and has become Managing Director of Taggstar – an innovative e-commerce development, alongside earning the title of 'The Queen of Wi-Fi'. Marjorie spoke to Dan Ginger of EntrepreneurCountry about her background, experiences, and future visions.

marjorie leonidas 1Background
Marjorie's time in Hong Kong ended following an increase in US protectionism – the extent of quotas limited her garment trade service. Following a move to the UK in 1998, she switched sectors and pioneered some of the first SaaS and cloud technologies. MagicButton.net enabled merchants to connect to affiliate sales partners to drive revenue – operating across an early e-commerce online platform. British Telecoms (BT) utilised this emerging technology, and it was BT that Marjorie then moved to in 2003, working initially as Head of Site Acquisition for Wi-Fi spaces, and then as Head of Wholesale, International Roaming and Business Development from 2003 until 2012. It was here that Marjorie earned her nickname – working on large-scale projects in building Wi-Fi links for early adopters and later for large corporations and events. Marjorie worked with LOCOG, the Mayor's Office, Ofcom and Cisco in providing Wi-Fi services at the 2012 London Olympics, aiding the successful expansion of services and dramatically improving user experience.

Global Reach and the Future and Innovation of Wi-Fi
Marjorie has two current roles – as Chief Commercial Officer of Global Reach Technologies and as Managing Director of Taggstar. Global Reach innovate in the wireless internet sphere and provide service gateways. Marjorie has supported work on delivering Wi-Fi for Virgin and Silicon Valley, as well as global retailers such as Westfield and Value Retail – operating on a SaaS model to ensure quick and smooth implementation of Wi-Fi services.

Marjorie spoke in length about the importance of the cellular experience – offering secure services and successfully incentivising provision and use. Importantly, "Wi-Fi requires a value exchange" – it cannot be offered universally for free. "Bandwidth is money", and Marjorie feels that the innovations and monetisation of Wi-Fi will centre around data exchange. By requiring users to sign up using personal details, companies receive user demographics to target campaigns and products to, providing high-quality Wi-Fi in return. In terms of the future of Wi-Fi, Marjorie has worked on the Hotspot 2.0 industry collaboration – an alliance of over 100 companies aiming to provide their customers with secure roaming services. So far deployed in San Francisco and San Jose, Wi-Fi is important in facilitating the VoIP calls and supporting streaming data in high footfall locations. The future of public Wi-Fi centres around venues and service providers continuing to provide secure and seamless, high bandwidth connectivity to give customers what they are used to at home, while on the move.

Taggstar and the Value of Social Proof
Marjorie joined exciting start-up Taggstar in Summer 2014. Taggstar provides layered information on online products, telling the browser about the size of the audience watching that item, how many sold, how fast a product is selling and its stock levels. She is passionate about the simplicity of the business model, yet its fantastic return on investment and value to customers. Marjorie describes the service as "innovative and creating and higher conversion rates for buying". This high uplift in sales has been exemplified in Taggstar's highly fruitful partnership with Shop Direct – a group of top tier retailers. There has been an exponential uplift in conversion to sales since using Taggstar – with consumers encouraged to make purchasing decisions.

Marjorie emphasised the importance of social proof in making decisions – "consumers are benefitted from transparent information...(and)...in monitoring the trends of other customers". 70% of people are said to be influenced by word of mouth for example. Taggstar's unique trend detection algorithm shows the rate of item purchasing, placing data at the centre of the service and enabling the network effect to take hold. Marjorie feels that the Taggstar business model has the potential to be scaled globally and to "incorporate external review data in order to provide the consumer with further useful information in making their decisions". While the short-term goal is to work with more partners following the Shop Direct success, Marjorie recognises the potential to use their JavaScript to scale quickly and to "merge with other technologies to make the social proof even more powerful" and to "extend the reach of persuasive messaging".

A Female in the Far East
As a young female in living and working in Hong Kong, Marjorie spoke of her experiences and success in this arena. Importantly, Marjorie attributed her success in Hong Kong to the reason of; "gender doesn't matter so much, its more about business and money. If you talk money and sense and be honest and have integrity (you will be successful)". Unlike some others, Marjorie found her experience to be less affected by her gender and age than many would think. She spoke of the core determining factor in success as being business acumen, rather than gender, age or status.

Marjorie envisages and appreciates a large business role for women, especially in the technology industry. She acknowledged that despite needing to understand the language of the technology sector, you don't need to build code and software as an individual to be in technology. There are many roles away from those that males typically dominate, and it is the negative stereotypes of the industry that result in the gender imbalance. Indeed, "Tech makes some women shudder". With the future being in telecommunications and online development, women need to use the business principles that they are so successful at elsewhere, and apply them to the sector. Marjorie considers new quotas for women on company boards to be a positive step, however it "is not yet in business DNA" to do so. The opportunities for women in the technology industry, and in working abroad and being successful in doing so, are clearly increasing – Marjorie's success and experience clearly shows that there is ample potential to do so.

Contact Marjorie: marjorie@taggstar.com

To learn more about Taggstar and Marjorie's projects with Global Reach, visit:
http://www.taggstar.com/
and
http://www.globalreachtech.com/

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Dan Ginger

Dan Ginger

Dan joined entrepreneurcountry in November 2014, following the award of a First-Class BA (Hons.) degree in Geography from Keble College, The University of Oxford. Alongside writing articles for EntrepreneurCountry, Dan works as an Analyst for the Ariadne Capital team, and is particularly interested in the development of global emerging markets.

LinkedIn Profile: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/daniel-ginger/5a/b62/804
Twitter: @DanGinge

 

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