Use My Benefits
Startup Helps Consumers Use Loyalty Program Benefits
By Bethany Augliere
After retiring as an attorney, Robin Baker wanted to pursue his dream of launching a company based on an idea that began a decade ago. But without the support from a big firm, he said he knew he’d need help.
That’s when he turned to FAU Tech Runway, a hub to accelerate technology development and incubate startup companies, part of FAU’s Innovation of Business Development pipeline of resources.
Through Tech Runway, Baker said, “we can work with mentors who are smart and experienced in particular industries that are useful to me. It’s a tremendous thing, a tremendous thing, and the most valuable part of the accelerator.”
Baker turned his idea into a company called Use My Benefits, a personalized search engine for credit card and loyalty program benefits, part of Tech Runway’s venture class 9.
“I'm not going to sit there at a restaurant and look at app after app on my phone to see if I can save 15%,” Baker said. “That's not what I'm there for, I’m there to have fun with my friends at dinner.”
The idea of Use My Benefits began swirling in the back of Baker’s mind around a decade ago when he received a coupon book from one of the frequent flyer miles programs that he was enrolled in, he said. Impressed with the benefits, he told himself, “I'm going to put this coupon book in my top desk drawer so that every time I open the drawer, I see it and I'm going to use all these benefits,” he said. “I opened the drawer six months later, the coupons had all expired.”
Use My Benefits is a responsive web application. People sign-up and check the credit cards or professional associations you belong to. Then, if they are going to a museum, or restaurant, or store, they login to the website, plug in where they are going and they get a list of benefits they can use at that time and place.
Running a start-up has been a change compared to working at a largelaw firm, said Baker, especially when it comes to the support and network offered by a company. That’s why he really values his experience with FAU TechRunway and the mentorship and connections from the program. Not only are the mentors there to answer questions, or help work through obstacles, they also provide encouragement, he said. “But the key thing is having real people — who volunteer their time — because they believe in what we're doing, and they're ready to pick up the phone whenever I call to help me,” Baker said.
Additionally, he said he appreciates the connection with other entrepreneurs experiencing the “same emotional highs and lows and facing the same difficulties of getting people’s time and attention as a start-up.”
In addition, FAU has been invaluable in providing contacts to larger companies who he potentially could partner with. “I feel very positive about what we have to offer,” Baker said. “The challenge is to find somebody who will spend three minutes listening to your story, to get somebody who can make a decision to pay attention to what you have to offer – Tech Runway helps make those connections.”
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