Back in the early days of the internet there used to be a number of dedicated prize sites. We’ve already mentioned Webcomp.co.uk as the first in our mini-series of blasts from the past, but our second trip into the archives involves a site that really mixed things up. This was because they weren’t happy offering prizes monthly, weekly or daily. Instead Freewin.co.uk offered prizes every hour. Operated by Quizpeople.com they described themselves as “the world’s largest quiz site” and even gave you the chance to win your own island? There’s also a little Loquax story involved too.
What Was FreeWin?
As far as we can remember – and using Wayback Machine – Freewin appeared in The UK during 1999. We believe they were a Danish company but they did have a registerd office in London. The site wasn’t just for UK users though as versions were available in Danish, Spanish, French, German and other languages. To take part in the quizzes, visitors to the site had to register but this then allowed them to take part in the hourly giveaways. Typically they’d be eight quizzes every hour and the prizes varied. For example we found using Wayback that in one hour the prizes included a Bodum espresso set, American Pie merchandise and a Samsonite Trolley. Whilst the days of smartphones was a long way off, visitors could also enter the quizzes via WAP. That link is well worth checking out just to see how fair mobile and the internet has changed.
Win An Island!
On top of the smaller prizes visitors could also try and win an island, a car, a holiday, a plane and a Harley Davidson! It took a while but we have managed to locate the page that lists these amazing prizes. It looks like you had to answer a question to enter but details about the actual prizes themselves were quite limited – they’d never get away with that now. For example the details on the site about the island prize explain “we have a fantastic island in mind, but that’s all we can say for now – the exact location is a well-kept secret”. If you didn’t fancy your own island then you could also win your very own aircraft although again Freewin didn’t actually give many details about this prize. However they did have a car to giveaway in the shape of and “every time you joined in one of the quizzes on FreeWin, you automatically earnt a point towards the big draw”.
Grand Prize Winner
Did anyone win on Freewin? Well the archive is again our friend and apparently there was a Grand Prize Winner (Julia Timms). We wonder if she chose the island as a prize? Interestingly the same prizes were put on offer for a second year including a chance to win an island. The smaller prizes were also won and if you sent in a picture then they’d include you on their gallery. The guy in the bottom right looks really happy with his inflatable beer can holder. Eventually Freewin.co.uk became Quizpeople.com and the site added a whole host of other elements to it’s service. These included links to dating sites, shopping brands and casinos. In addition, and proving that the guys behind the site were ahead of their time, there was also a live internet quiz.
We Want To Buy Loquax
We’ve only had a couple of serious enquiries to purchase the company and Freewin/Quizpeople were one of those. Back in 2000 they invited us to Copenhagen – all expenses paid – to discuss working with them and potentially purchasing Loquax from us. The idea was that our prize portal idea and their quiz site idea would work together and develop into a model for other countries. We would head up the UK version of whatever a Freewin meets Loquax combo would entail. Kirsty was away in Houston so Jason made the trip to Denmark to discuss the matters further. Selling Loquax was never our burning desire but we were willing to hear what they had to say. The meeting turned out to be very short because they made their first and final offer to Jason almost immediately. On reflection it seemed like they thought we’d jump at their offer and literally rip their hands off based on the size of the valuation they’d made. Oooops!
Fresh Air Valuations
The thing is that despite the numbers involved, most of it was worthless because it would be paid to us as company shares. Once you broke down what was on the table there was actually little to no hard currency involved and if we were going to sell then we wanted cash in our bank accounts! We’d already learnt this from a previous enquiry. That one made quite huge overtures in terms of value – more than Freewin – but again it was all fresh air. So when Freewin offered us fresh air – which was less fresh air than the previous enquiry – we turned them down flat. They did ask what we wanted but they weren’t prepared to pay us actual money so that concluded the meeting because beyond that there was nothing else to discuss. To be fair they did take Jason out for food afterwards but it all felt like something that could have been dealt with in a few minutes over the phone. Definitely an interesting experience and the last offer we had for Loquax for many years.
All The Right Ideas
As it happens turning down the offer was a good thing because giving away prizes every hour and offering islands to winners is a costly business. Like many prize sites of this era Freewin/Quizpeople just didn’t generate enough revenue – or couldn’t attract further funding as the dotcom bubble had burst – to support it’s endeavours and the site closed around 2001/2. Had we been tied with them then it’s more than likely we’d have been sucked under too. Looking back it was a good decision but Freewin/Quizpeople did have some interesting ideas. Giving away prizes every hour now occurs occasionally with brands on social media; Pick My Postcode runs daily cash giveaways for looking at ads or completing surveys; some gambling sites run live trivia quizzes for cash prizes; everyone wants to make money from user data and target individuals with ads like Facebook and Google do. Freewin quite possibly were aiming to do all those things in their own way. To adapt a line from Morecambe and Wise – Freewin had all the right ideas just not necessarily at the right time.