Effective communication with customers and community is critical for organisations like gyms or clubs to constantly keep their members up to date and engaged with what is happening. However, current methodologies in this area are often outdated, manual and laborious.
DeBruin, cofounded by Clint Bruin, is a new technology platform that creates both software and hardware. The company is building a new communications platform for community-based organisations like universities, councils, and sports clubs that will allow them to communicate directly with their members and have more personal engagement with them.
There are three parts to it. The first is what the company calls a Smart-Fob, essentially a miniaturised smart phone that sits on a keyring.
“The reason we do that is because now there are so many apps that you have on a smartphone, there are literally thousands of them and it’s not very personal anymore,” says Bruin. “[It’s not personal] because you’re just downloading another app. By having it on your keyring, it’s actually a symbol for your patriotism to that organisation or that community or club that you belong to.”
From a novelty / user experience perspective, the Smart-Fob has also got a little screen so that the club can send you updates, rewards, notifications and things like personal messages. The second part to its offering is called Touchstone, which is a checkpoint system for merchants, affiliated partners, and events. An example of the way it works would be if a university was having an outdoor event, students with the Smart-Fob could scan / check in through the Touchstone checkpoint and that way the organisation can collect the data more efficiently on who came to the event.
For even larger membership organisations like the NRMA, for example, which has over 2 million members, the Smart-Fob can also double as a membership card and feature NRMA branding.
The third part of what DeBruin does is called its Keystone Operating System, which is the software component that communicates with its hardware products. For instance, via the cloud you can start to create rules and instructions like sending members of a particular demographic a specific message, or roll out a loyalty program to a specific level of member. It is essentially the administration point for the accompanying systems and products.
The company recently completed the NRMA Jumpstart program, and given the type of startup DeBruin is, there are a lot of synergies.
“The NRMA is actually looking to assist people to do the types of things Debruin is trying to solve, in a much more lean approach to what is currently available to enterprise level clients,” says Bruin. “The program taught us to apply more of a scientific approach around how we were marketing the company, around testing theories and on what the product should be and to communicate that message of what we do. It’s been a big learning experience to me. It’s like an MBA on steroids.”
On describing his favourite aspects of the program Bruin said, “One day a week we have an intensive based on the Lean Startup philosophy, which was new to me. The first four weeks of the program were around business modeling and identifying product-market fit and learning how to articulate really what it is we’re trying to solve. That’s been the biggest challenge for me. I understand tech and I’ve got an instinct that our product is going to be successful but trying to articulate that to different audiences that aren’t technical has been a real challenge for me.”
Bruin said that the training has not only been indispensable from a startup perspective, but also from a personal development standpoint. In the remaining weeks of the program Bruin is looking forward to making sure that the company is investor-ready, sighting that it is likely the venture would be seeking a seed funding round, although that is currently only at the early stage of discussions.