If you’re a customer who likes to receive rewards for your purchases, or a merchant who likes to thank customers for their loyalty, you’re in luck. The Repunch team has an app for that.
Repunch is a consumer loyalty app that customers use to earn free products and other rewards where they shop. The app gives retailers unique ways to create incentives for customers to come back. Customers can also share their likes and dislikes with the merchants and receive advance notices about specials and events. The app includes a searchable database that customers can use to find Repunch businesses.
Lawrenceville resident and vice president of marketing and business development Andrew Tervooren says the app is designed to make the buyer experience more personal. He’s passionate about Repunch because he is helping to build a company that benefits both consumers and businesses. “It helps to improve the way customers and businesses interact,” Tervooren says.
Tervooren plans to roll out Repunch to the Princeton area soon. In the initial phase, it will be available to all consumers, and to merchants affiliated with Princeton University and members of the Princeton Merchants Association.
“We want to work closely with Princeton students as well as the university. We want a presence on and off campus,” Tervooren says.
As a consumer, you can download the app to your iPhone or Android free of charge from Repunch.com. When you become a Repunch customer, you receive a five-digit punch code. When you make a purchase from a merchant, you tell him your code, and he punches your account for the number of points you earned. After you reach the defined number of punches, you redeem them for a free product or other reward. You can also gift rewards to your Facebook friends who are Repunch users.
Most important, you can throw away all the loyalty cards that these same merchants used to give you. Merchants can become a Repunch retailer by signing up on the web at www.repunch.com. Once signed up, you will be able to give and redeem punches through the Repunch dashboard via your Internet-enabled POS [point of sale] device, a computer or tablet, or via a retailer mobile app. Merchants do not have to integrate their accounting system with Repunch.
Heading the team is Andrew’s brother Matthew Tervooren, co-founder and CEO, who had a lightbulb moment in 2010 when he was a senior at the University of Michigan. Even though he frequented the same few bars and restaurants, he would usually be treated as if he were a first-time patron. An economics major, Matthew “found it odd that he wouldn’t be more valued, and offered certain perks, or rewards for his loyalty,” his brother Andrew says.
“He’s a first-time entrepreneur. He has a knack for it,” says Andrew, who graduated from Rutgers with a B.A. in communications in 2008. “He passed up offers from large companies to start his own business.”
Besides the Tervoorens, the team includes Michael Shin, co-founder and CTO, a computer engineering graduate of Michigan; web developer Vandolf Estrellado, who has a degree in computer science from City College of New York; and Emil Landron, iOS developer.
The Repunch team works from an office space in Brooklyn, New York. “We have a co-office environment called the Green Desk,” Tervooren says. They chose Brooklyn because it is becoming a good setting for start-ups, and it is a great neighborhood environment, he says.
Andrew believes that Repunch has a bright future, and he’s not the only one. “Our board of advisors [and investors] include the co-founder of Pinterest, Paul Sciarra, as well as vice president of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, Michael Smith,” he says.
Another person on the board is Dave Cote, vice president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and founder of the Big Apple Entrepreneur Network in New York. Tervooren is on the board of the Big Apple network, where he meets with other members a couple times a month. They share ideas, hold workshops, and meet potential investors.
“There’s money in New York and tons of people. Big Apple Entrepreneur Network has become pretty big. I love it. I get to see industry trends,” Tervooren says.
The team’s angel investment rounds have been led by Michael Smith and Fox News anchor Lou Dobbs. The angel round is the first group of funds that a company raises and consists of individuals, says Tervooren. After their angel round is closed, they will start raising the “Series A” round of funding, which usually comes from venture capitalists.
Mark Censits, former president and now board member of Princeton Merchants Association, has been a key player in partnering PMA with Repunch. One of PMA’s important missions is to encourage people to work and shop where they live, Censits says.
“I wanted to offer PMA something more than a guilt complex. Working with Matt [and Repunch] would create more of a hardwire incentive rather than just an emotional plea.”
Censits came up with a roll-out plan in which Repunch would initially be made available exclusively to members of PMA. Currently there are about 80 members. At the end of the roll-out phase, Repunch would be available to any merchant.
Censits views Repunch as a solution that has much more to offer than free products. “The ‘buy 10, get 1 free thing’ is not the most important aspect,” he says. “I think the combination of things they offer is a well integrated package of benefits, not just a mixed bag.”
The package for merchants, as described by Tervooren and on the Repunch website, includes customized rewards, individual messaging, private feedback, analytics, and social media perks.
The app makes it easy to send customers messages that are time-sensitive and geared toward their interests, as opposed to sending an E-mail blast. Customers can respond easily and can also send you private feedback on their experience at your store. In turn, you can respond to the feedback directly.
The app can increase your social media coverage if you offer customers extra punches when they send posts about your business. The analytics tool will tell you when business is brisk and when it is slow, show you which products are selling, and show you how often your business is being mentioned on Facebook. Signing up as a Repunch merchant is free. Once a merchant has a significant number of customers, he will be charged a modest monthly fee.
Censits, who is the owner of CoolVines wine, beer, and spirits shop on Spring Street, says he plans to use the messaging feature to tell customers about wine tastings and day trips. He also expects to learn more about sales activity throughout the day with the analytics tool.
Andrew Tervooren is confident that the Repunch concept will be easily adapted — even by storeowners used to doing business the old way. “We work well for lower tech merchants due to the fact that we do not tie in at all with their point of sale systems. We stay completely independent. They can grant punches through any smartphone that downloads the ‘retailer app.’ Or they can grant punches through their dashboard on any Internet enabled device,” including an old-fashioned computer.
Repunch has come a long way since its planning days in 2011. Tervooren says that in the early days, they worked from their mother’s living room. He and his brothers (older brother Alex works for a hedge fund in Manhattan) acquired their entrepreneurial talent from their parents, he says. When they were growing up, his father ran his own investment banking company, and his mother was a marketing consultant and pro-active cancer activist (U.S. 1, September 14, 1994). Today she is marketing director for IVF New Jersey. Rudoph Tervooren runs a Visiting Angels senior home care agency.
“My parents taught me and my brother the value of hard work and compassion. They were tremendously supportive,” Andrew says. “My brother Matt showed me the value of taking risks.”
“Right now we are fully committed to the development and roll-out of Repunch. We plan to make updates and additions, such as new features that aim to further benefit the business and consumer. As we roll out, these new features will be implemented along the way,” Tervooren says. “I like being passionate about a product. I wouldn’t do this with anything I don’t believe in.”
Repunch is on the Internet at www.Repunch.com. Information about the Princeton Merchants Association is at www.princetonmerchants.org