Adelaide tech startup secures Vonu hospitality deal

Software developed by a South Australian startup that helps hospitality venue operators engage customers in real time will be rolled out nationally.

Based at the University of Adelaide ThincLab, the startup has raised $160,000 in seed capital to test their mobile platform Bellr.

The app will now be activated in 150 food and beverage businesses across Australia in tandem with the deployment of a VIP loyalty program accessible via the app for Vonu Export beer.

Bellr CEO Mitchell Stapleton-Coory said the Vonu partnership will help get their customer relationship management (CRM) tool into the national hospitality industry.

READ: Sidel, Coca-Cola collaborate on new Fanta bottle

“Vonu came on board to partially fund the development of that (loyalty program) side of it in exchange for a licence on the technology to run the Vonu VIP program,” said Stapleton-Coory.

“By September we’re looking to have 50 Vonu venues signed up, then they’ll start to join on a rolling basis between now and the end of the year scaling up to the 150 total. In addition to that, we’re looking to have about 50 Adelaide venues live in the next couple of months.”

Bellr’s CRM software allows food and beverage businesses to customise and schedule promotions to attract and retain customers. Patrons redeem offers and process electronic payments through the app.

“Venues have the ability to promote anything they like in their venue with 100 per cent autonomy,” said Stapleton-Coory.

“We provide a dashboard to the venue where they can post whatever they want, with complete control over the price point, the products, the capacity, the timing and it’s a live promotion that goes out to people depending on how many follow the venue,” he said.

“With retention, it’s about incentivising loyalty to a venue, a brand or potentially a group of venues. We do that by running tailor-made loyalty programs on our technology which is more invite-only, closed groups like what we’re doing with Vonu and various other brands and customers,” said Stapleton-Coory.

The app also provides insights into a range of metrics from each promotion including the total amount of clicks/impressions, how many people have secured and redeemed it and revenue.

The user interface was designed by app and web developer EB Pearls in Sydney.

Bellr chief operations officer Matthew Giorgio said the user interface was made to be simple and user friendly for venues and customers.

“We basically load you into a map, into a geolocation as to where you are in the world similar to Uber, so you can see what venues and promotions are available around you in real time,” said Giorgio.

“It’s all relative to what’s around you at that point in time. The offers themselves are ephemeral, and don’t last for more than 24 hours, so anything around you is live and interactable.,” he said.

Stapleton-Coory and Giorgio co-founded the company in Adelaide two years ago under the name ‘SHOUTback’ before rebranding. Having previously worked in the hospitality industry, the pair saw firsthand the impact of the gig economy on the business environment.

“Every sales environment has a CRM that they use to manage the customer relationship, but the hospitality industry lags significantly behind in that respect and the state of the industry is changing, they’re dealing with a lot of digital disruptions these days,” said Stapleton-Coory.

“Hospitality venues need to up-skill with tech. They’re currently the third least digitised sector of the economy, so we’re trying to develop an approachable and easy to integrate with platform which will allow them to level up in the tech space,” said Stapleton-Coory.

Bellr is targeting brick and mortar and pop-up venue spaces, and have tested the app in 30 venues around Adelaide.

The company currently receives a 14 per cent flat commission for each promotion.

“We safeguard our percentage by limiting the minimum cost of any promotion sold to $10, that means we can viably afford it,” said Stapleton-Coory.

“We ultimately want to move to a subscription base service where we take less of a commission because of cash flow reasons, we want the venues to keep as much of the sale as possible and we would be happier to just take a monthly fee for licensing the platform,” said Stapleton-Coory.

Stapleton-Coory said they have plans to expand Bellr internationally.

“We see plenty of potential to take it internationally,” he said.

“We’ve got strong connections with Lion in New Zealand who have expressed interest in trailing the software.”

This article was originally published on the Lead.