FounderFuel Accepts Brownie Points
Brownie Points, the St. John’s startup that has developed a customer loyalty tool for small retailers, has been accepted into the Montreal accelerator FounderFuel, offering it a chance to grow in a major Canadian city.
The company now has its point of sale product in about 40 locations in St. John’s and Halifax and now has to figure out a way to increase sales dramatically, especially in larger markets. Founders Matthew Stenback and Adam Puddicombe believe the 12-week course in a large city like Montreal will help their business immeasurably.
“I think it will be big for us,” said Puddicombe. “We’ve established some pretty good traction in St. John’s and Halifax that’s allowed us to validate the idea and the product. But we feel we’re ready to scale. I think the access to mentors FounderFuel offers will provide us with the direction and focus we need to reach our goals.”
The two former business students at Memorial University began Brownie Points as a tool for coffee shops (as the name suggests) but their product has applications for other retailers as well. The thinking is that larger companies can afford loyalty programs; but small retailers need the sophistication of a digital program that engages customers and generates data to help the shopkeepers track of and retain customers.
Stenback said they are pleased with 40 customers but know they have to do a lot more to get clients. They surveyed all their clients this month, and 80 percent responded on the first day with overwhelmingly positive feedback about the product.
The two founders had thought about just moving to a larger market. Then they realized that attending an accelerator like FounderFuel would place them in a city of 1.6 million people and give them an instant network and mentors within that city.
“We’re sort of poised now to scale and we’re looking for the strongest way to scale,” said Stenback. “So at FounderFuel, we’re going to be looking forward to working with mentors who understand growth.”
He added that the team believes the best route to growth may include partnering with other companies that target SMEs. For example, they recently spoke with Phillip Curley, the CEO of HotSpot Parking of Fredericton. The two sides agreed there may be opportunities to work together as they offer different but complementary services to SMEs.
The 10-team FounderFuel cohort begins on Sept. 1 and runs until the DemoDay on Dec. 2, and after that Stenback and Puddicombe expect to return to St. John’s. “We had discussed plans of moving to Montreal or Toronto but we need to sell remotely,” said Stenback. “We can field calls from everywhere, regardless of where we’re based.”
The company plans to raise funds, but is taking time to decide the best approach. It will receive a $50,000 investment on joining FounderFuel, and at the end will be eligible for the $150,000 convertible note that BDC Ventures offers some graduates of major Canadian accelerators (including PropelICT). The team also wants to consult with its new mentors on the best route to financing the company.