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How To Optimize Your Influence | Andrew Duffy (SPARKPLUG) Interview | DH133

DH133 - Andrew Duffy Sparkplug Ceo interview on Digital Hospitality episode 133

SparkPlug aims to propel retail businesses and brands through personalized experiences and optimizing their influence.

Andrew Duffy is a Harvard grad with the right amount of book smarts and business sense. Add tech savvy in the ingredients and one of the spark plugs behind the SparkPlug platform understands what it takes to build systems that optimize brands and retail businesses. 

SparkPlug CEO Andrew Duffy was a guest on the Digital Hospitality podcast where he talked about starting his company, incentivizing employees, and building systems to help businesses.



SparkPlug company logoWhat is SparkPlug? —

SparkPlug is an “incentive management platform” that provides frontline employees with automated sales incentives and rewards to drive revenue for retail brands and other businesses. The technology company is based in San Francisco.

As the team at SparkPlug knows, brick and mortar shopping isn’t dying — it’s changing.

Both Andrew Duffy and his SparkPlug cofounder Jake Sky Levin studied behavioral science at Harvard University, giving them insights into how people inherently operate.

SparkPlug Founders Andrew Duffy and Jake Duffy at Harvard University

“What really fascinated us was the idea that our model of economics that we’ve used for decades and decades is built around a false concept. The belief that humans are fundamentally rational and that they’ll make decisions that are entirely rational…”

After college, Andrew took a job in the finance world that proved to be a serendipitous event. He fondly remembers the job as a “unique place and is all oriented around these really unique employee engagement philosophies. So they think about their employees as an asset that they want to develop.”

Though the kickoff point for SparkPlug, its true origin dates back to Andrew’s days before college.

Andrew knows firsthand what it’s like to be the person responsible for driving business without receiving the benefit from doing so at a high level. As a server at the Cactus Cantina in Washington, D.C. as a teenager, Andrew sold the most Gold Cadillac Margaritas for three consecutive months. That experience became the inspiration behind finding a way for analytics to be tracked efficiently and specifically in real time. 

“If we could make this scalable and make this easy, then I can’t imagine an alcohol brand in the world that wouldn’t want to be able to do this,” thought a young, motivated Duffy. 

It’s no secret that incentive manufactures enthusiasm. Andrew and SparkPlug attempt to close the circle of hospitality by creating an opportunity for the experience to be rewarding to all involved. 

“You want a really incentivized and high quality employee to be interacting with you and getting the product in your hands.

“The retailer really wants that employee to be engaged and incentivized to make that experience great for the person who’s coming into the store, and the brand is really excited about getting the product into the customer’s hands and having that be an experience that they want to rave about.”


Incentivizing Employees in the Modern Age —

Andrew and his business partner have a mission to create high level work spaces for employees to feel energized enough to want to provide a first-rate experience for customers, which empowers the customer to influence others to purchase from or visit that particular retailer creating a desire for brands to want to work with the retailer. Ultimately, streamlining the value surrounding the life cycle of all transactions in retail environments. 

“I think what we’ve seen is that a lot of people get burnt out in retail and restaurants,” Andrew Duffy states matter of factly.

“I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants. I’ve worked in a lot of retailers and it’s exhausting,” he continues. “You’re not thinking about what can I do here that’s going to get me some extra value; that’s going give me a reward for the extra work I’m doing?”

These are the questions that need answers.

The ultimate question, though, which was asked of investors during SparkPlug’s fundraising phase that ended up garnering $3.5 million is: Why SparkPlug?

Andrew answers, “I just think that with a tool like ours scaled up to usage across all of the brick and mortar and restaurant environments that we can find and actually meaningfully change people’s outcomes. And we see that every day.”

SparkPlug is bridging the gap between business owners and laborers to increase equality in the workplace and infuse the old school brick and mortar system with the ever changing digital space to increase engagement by providing data that businesses can actually use and understand.

• SPARKPLUG DEMO: Contact SparkPlug to get a demo of their platform at

DH133 - Andrew Duffy Sparkplug Ceo interview on Digital Hospitality episode 133


  • SparkPlug App:
  • Call SparkPlug: (310) 518-7384
  • LinkedIn:


SparkPlug is an employee rewards and campaign management platform built specifically for consumer goods companies, retailers, and restaurants to reward frontline retail employees and restaurant workers for the sales they generate, and increase brick-and-mortar revenues.

Companies that use SparkPlug can incentivize frontline workers and sales staff to influence purchasing outcomes by launching goals-focused sales campaigns and promotions. The SparkPlug platform delivers real-time campaign data to CPGs and retailers about which products and promotions are performing, while providing an additional revenue stream for workers.

Launched in March 2020, SparkPlug has already delivered over $500k in supplemental income to frontline hourly employees, all sponsored by the consumer brands whose products those in-store workers put directly into consumers’ hands.


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