Clive Humby and Edwina Dunn

“If everything works, you don’t push the limits hard enough … great ideas should fail sometimes.”

Clive Humby, co-founder of dunnhumby

“Work hard, believe in yourself, find your opposite (not just out of love, but for work) and then surround yourself with brilliant people”

Edwina Dunn, co-founder of dunnhumby

Husband and wife Clive Humby and Edwina Dunn – hence the name of their retail data store, Dunnhumby – came up with a brilliant idea. What if you combined those old-fashioned Green Shield stamps, where you lick hundreds of stamps into a book so you could, for example, afford a kettle, with a personalized record of what you actually bought.

In return for giving your shopping history to the supermarket, they gave you special offers and discounts.

But in the early 1990s, none of the supermarkets really knew what their customers were buying.

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In 1994, Tesco, the second most popular supermarket after Sainsbury’s, wanted to develop a new customer card. The Tesco manager responsible for developing the Tesco loyalty card heard the computer scientist Clive Humby speak at an event and then spoke to him.

Tesco agreed to test the Dunnhumby-developed Clubcard in nine stores for three months that same year. The team was then asked to present its findings to the Tesco board. A moment that triggers a sip. At the end of the presentation, it was the then chairman of Tesco, Lord MacLaurin, who broke the awkward minute-long silence. He said, “What scares me about it is that after three months you know more about my customers than I did after 30 years.”

In just over a year, Tesco managed to overtake Sainsbury’s to become the UK’s largest retailer.

With Tesco’s blessing, Dunnhumby soon signed similar deals with supermarket groups around the world, and in 2002 Tesco bought a 53 percent stake in the company.

In 2010, Clive Humby and Edwina Dunn eventually sold the rest of the business to Tesco for a total of £ 93 million.

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