Elevator Pitch: Brownie Points

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with founder Tony Delaney from Brownie Points.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Engaged, passionate and motivated employees can have a major impact on business, and appreciating great work and staff contribution can generate significant business benefits. Brownie Points software is a fully configurable cloud-based employee recognition solution delivering a comprehensive dashboard of functionality to instantly recognise excellent staff performance, generate reports and analytics, fine tune employee reward programs, and measure the results of engagement initiatives to maximise the level of staff performance. Brownie Points allows managers to monitor who is being recognised and why, and identify top performers while utilising the input of peer recognition to improve performance reviews and identify future leaders in the organisation. Instant recognition through Brownie Points software delivers information to managers and employees via their desktop, tablet or smart phone device.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Brownie Points was developed and launched in early 2012 and was initially privately funded by one founder (,yself) and by offering shares to the other three founders in return for their sweat equity. The initial development costs were around $300,000. All work on the web site, marketing activities, sales activity and support was carried out by the founders, with me working full time (unpaid initially), and the other three shareholders working part time while continuing with their own careers.

This allowed the company to develop and launch the software with a very low cost base and become competitive very quickly, as we were able to deliver a low cost of ownership model that delivered return on investment.

Today the company has an established and growing base of clients, with several large clients with in excess of 1000 users. The revenue being generated today covers all operational and development costs, and is also able to pay me a salary. The next stage of development will allow the company to move the other founders across into full-time roles within the organisation.

Growth strategy is still focused on low cost marketing, maximising the lead generation capability of the web site, networking, and a key focus on markets where staff retention, talent attraction and customer service issues prevail. In particular, we have been very successful in the Not for Profit (NFP) sector, where our low cost of ownership delivers major benefits to budget restricted organisations which often cannot compete salary package wise with commercial operations.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

The biggest challenge to the business is apathy. Employers who do not understand the value of happy, focused, motivated and engaged employees who can make a major contribution to the success of the business are failing their business.

There is a strong correlation between engaged staff, brand image, corporate performance and stakeholder value. The flow only goes one way. If employees are not engaged, company performance can be significantly reduced.

Our challenge is to help businesses understand that engaged employees can make a significant contribution to a business. If they are motivated correctly, a recognition and reward program will deliver a significant return on investment through talent retention, performance improvement, innovation, cost savings and improved customer service.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

We have focused on delivering low cost of ownership, high return on investment solutions to improve staff engagement, while providing a high level of functionality that is usually associated with significantly more expensive solutions in the market. The software is designed to be fast to personalise and implement, easy to use and maintain, while delivering measurable return on investment. Many of our competitor's solutions require significant investment in consulting and training, making them expensive and slow to implement. Our solution delivers results quickly.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

It's probably not so much an app, but I couldn't live without being able to get emails on my mobile. I am rarely in the office, and the capability to receive and send emails, make appointments, and manipulate folders of information on my mobile device is crucial. Being able to sync it with the laptop at the end of the day helps me to travel light.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

A sales manager in a previous life told me that "No" simply means "Not at this time". As a result, I think it is important to maintain a good relationship with customers and prospects, as you don't know where they will turn up, and when they will be ready to say "Now". Also, Australia is a small country as far as business is concerned, and therefore a good reputation is critical to success.

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