How many times have you gone to your favorite coffeeshop and, as you're paying the bill, realized you forgot your loyalty or punch card? If your java joint of choice is Starbucks, the answer is probably none, because Starbucks has a slick mobile app that makes it easy for customers to cash in on frequent visits. Getting a custom app developed can cost $50,000 to $1 million, though, plus tens of thousands more in regular updates and maintenance fees. It isn't a viable option for many local and independent small business owners—at least, it wasn't until now. Local software company Sparkage, Inc. (getsparkage.com) has developed a user-friendly app that allows even the smallest shop to stay connected with its customers and reward them for their loyalty for a fraction of the price.
Tyler Robertson, one of three Sparkage co-founders, manages marketing for the company.
"We provide companies of all sizes [the ability] to have their own app, available in app stores, that allows them to communicate with their customers about news and events and promote their company," Tyler said. The app runs on iOS and Android; it's native, meaning it looks and works like an app as opposed to a website squished to fit on a mobile device; a business owner can manage the app online from anywhere; and it's available via subscription for $99 per month.
"But I would say the biggest key we offer is the tools for customer retention and to reward customer loyalty," Tyler said.
The other two Sparkage co-founders, brothers Drew and Ryan Lederman, agreed with Tyler. Drew added, "It's a web-based service, so you don't have to know how to code, you don't have to have a technical background. You just come to our website and build an app."
By "build" he means "pick modules from a template." Sparkage does offer custom design and development (for an additional fee), but the range of templates and accompanying models available suits a variety of business types, like restaurants, retail outlets and churches. Even though both Drew and Ryan have extensive technical backgrounds, they knew if the app was too complicated, it would defeat the purpose: to allow companies of any size to have an affordable app that looks and works like it was developed specifically for them. So Sparkage focused on function without sacrificing form, and although the app only recently launched, some local businesses like Treasure Valley Vapors and Off Broadway Deli are already using it.
Drew, Ryan and Tyler said Sparkage gives small businesses an opportunity to take advantage of mobile technology without breaking the bank.
"We're leveling the playing field," Ryan said.
Check out the explanatory video at getsparkage.com.