Many sports figures struggle to transition into the workplace when their careers are cut short.

Former footballer Achille Traore found a new buzz in business – and is now looking to build White Label Loyalty into a title-winning outfit.

Traore, who grew up in Sweden, spent most of his playing career in that country before a brief spell at Barnsley in South Yorkshire. When injury curtailed his sporting endeavours, he worked as a financial advisor before joining language services company the bigword, based in nearby Leeds.

“We took it from zero to £6 million in 18 months. I thought ‘wow, this is much easier in professional sports. There’s no injuries!’ I got the buzz for business,” he tells TechBlast.

In 2007 he founded TopScreen Media with the help of former Barnsley chairman John Dennis to build digital signage, screens and software for the likes of Alton Towers, the World Trade Center and Adidas.

Ahead of the game

The early period of that business – before the invention of the smartphone – taught him that it’s not always good to be too far ahead of the game.

“It’s nice to be ahead of time – but not too far ahead,” he says. “We made self-service kiosks for retail and the people who saw them were like ‘this is amazing!’

“But it was too far ahead – people didn’t want to use a screen in retail. Fast-forward five, six years and they were everywhere! I spent a long time trying to convince people about those.”

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Leeds-based White Label Loyalty – initially known as Perks Loyalty – followed in 2015 to solve the problem of loyalty programmes which are purely transaction-based.

When I was playing football, it was amazing to see the passion the fans had for the clubs. I wanted to create something that brought that same kind of loyalty into brands,” explains Traore.

“You need to really understand how loyalty works – it’s not because the season tickets are cheap, it’s because it’s an emotional connection. There are elements available to decode how to create emotional loyalty.”

White Label Loyalty

Traore says that 75% of loyalty programmes fail. White Label Loyalty, star of our sister publication BusinessCloud’s recent MarTech 50 ranking, seeks to solve this with a flexible, modular approach which allows scaling companies to reward customers for all activity – for example spending time in an app, referring friends or even performing physical activity – which can be layered on top of legacy programmes if necessary.

Despite researching the market thoroughly prior to launch, the idea of complementing existing systems only came about by listening to customers.

White Label Loyalty

“We realised that some of the ways that we wanted to solve the problem were not always possible with enterprise businesses because they are sitting on a lot of legacy platforms – no matter how easy we made it for them, it wouldn’t be completely frictionless,” he says. “So we created models that could supercharge what they already do; allowing them to work within their own infrastructure then bringing through that transformation.”

He advises: “In business, you have to focus on what matters. It’s so easy to get distracted. What is it that people actually want?

“Stay really close to your customers. People just presume to know what they want – and that is why the loyalty marketplace has not changed much. We just do the same thing over and over again.”


Asked for a parallel between football and business, he responds: “Team is the main thing – you’re only as good as your weakest link. Surround yourself with good people. You can tell when a football team has winners in them: they don’t want to lose, and they like to win together. 

“When people ask me what I miss about football, it’s the training… realising that together you can achieve more.”

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