There are five founders behind the Brownie Points enterprise, who bring a huge level of experience across sales, marketing, information technology, creative design and branding.
Brownie Points was founded in March 2011 by Tony Delaney, Chris Keenan, Adrian Jobson, Kris Delaney and Nick Watts.
The Melbourne-based business aims to engage and motivate employees to “ensure that their behaviours are in line with the corporate vision”.
The subsequent increase in staff engagement and motivation is designed to deliver a measurable return on investment.
Tony Delaney talks to StartupSmart about why Australian businesses need a solution such as Brownie Points, and how the start-up plans to promote itself.
What prompted you to launch Brownie Points? What niche did you identify?
It was evident that a large percentage of Australian businesses have failed to recognise the benefits of implementing a program to improve morale, increase productivity, reduce staff turnover and improve company performance.
As a result of market research, we saw a gap in the market for Brownie Points to establish itself as a leading reward and recognition solution.
We believe that if you recognise improved staff performance or behaviour measured against pre-determined KPIs, and then reward that behaviour with inspirational awards, the employees respond positively and will continue to improve their performance.
How did you fund the business?
The development of Brownie Points has been funded privately through my personal finances, and through intellectual property supplied by the other founders and shareholders.
It is expected that the total development cost for the software, new website, trademark and collateral will be approximately $250,000.
How do you promote the business?
Early market penetration has been focused on four key areas: networking and telesales; website optimisation, blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn; third party channels; and shareholders’ networks.
In the early stages, to keep costs to a minimum, the marketing has mainly been focused on networking.
The initial clients and the majority of prospects to date have been identified through networks of contacts that the team and I have developed in the past in various sales and management roles.
As a cloud-based technology business solution, it is important to ensure that Brownie Points maximises its investment in technology to generate sales enquiries.
Continued development of the website is important. Having designed, developed and launched the new website in 2011, updates are planned to keep the content fresh and relevant, and search engine optimisation is being undertaken.
We have been able to leverage business in the past by working with third party organisations that are able to make introductions at a high level or offer a third party product.
This approach is being utilised by Brownie Points, and a number of partner organisations in different markets have been identified.
How do you stand out in the market? What’s your point/s of difference?
A significant gap in the market was identified for Brownie Points to establish itself as a market-leading solution to engage and motivate employees by offering the following:
- A reward and recognition program that is scalable and suits organisations of all sizes and budgets.
- A solution that is quick to implement, easy to personalise and simple to maintain.
- A product that is intuitive to use and easy to learn.
- A solution that requires little or no training, or ongoing consulting services, to become operational.
- A reward solution that allows organisations to choose their own rewards and source the products, service and experiences themselves or via Brownie Points.
- A solution that is focused on measuring tangible business improvements such as reduced staff turnover, increased morale and improved customer service, with the ability to identify trends and respond to them by delivering business intelligence to management.
What’s the biggest risk you face?
The biggest risk in the early stages was likely to come from having few customers, and therefore the perceived risk to potential clients could have been seen as higher than purchasing from more established vendors.
To counter this, we have focused on identifying early adopters through networks of contacts who are happy to work with, and receive the benefits of partnering with, “leading edge” suppliers.
This has worked well to date, as these early adopters have had an influence on the development of the product and will continue to do so.
How many staff do you have?
I work full-time in the business, with Chris and Adrian working part-time but planning to move into the business full-time as soon as possible.
In addition, there is a part-time administrator/receptionist. The other shareholders will continue to work part-time in the business.
What are your revenue projections for 2011/12?
The revenue model is based on a per user per month basis for a three-year contract, so the revenue curve is low at the beginning but rises steeply as new clients come on board.
The expectation is for revenue around $50,000 in the first full year of operation, increasing to $200,000 in year two and $500,000 within three to four years.
However, with some major prospects currently looking to pilot the software, these figures could be accelerated rapidly.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
The original idea to develop Brownie Points goes back to 2009 when the Brownie Points name was purchased as part of an acquisition of another business.
As a result of the GFC, development of Brownie Points was delayed.
Looking back, the GFC was probably the perfect time to have started the development of the software, so that it could have been launched in 2010.