A Birmingham startup is changing the way consumers save money, and there are no punch cards or coupon slips involved. Pointz is a free mobile app that launched in March 2017 with a simple goal: help local businesses incentivize customers with rewards.
Using Bluetooth technology, Pointz runs in the background while you visit local restaurants, bars and retail stores. You earn points based on the amount of time spent, which can then be redeemed for rewards on the app, such as T-shirts, hats and gift cards.
Avondale Brewing, Wine Loft, Cahaba Brewing and Good People Brewing are some of the businesses participating in Pointz rewards. Pointz founder and CEO Andrew Petrovics said the idea was based on his experiences at local businesses. He developed the app at Innovation Depot’s Velocity Accelerator.
“I grew up working in small local businesses, and I’ve always wanted to make a product to help them,” Petrovics said. “With my background in engineering, I just merged those things together, and it morphed into Pointz.”
His previous work with sensors as a software developer proved crucial when developing the technology behind the app, he said. After turning on Bluetooth, users log into the app once and never have to again. The sensors set up in participating restaurants detect the users through Bluetooth and track how much time was spent in the business.
“When we initially launched our first version, one of the main feedback we got was how easy it was,” Petrovics said. “People can shop and dine as they normally would, but now, they get some rewards for doing so.”
In addition to helping customers, Petrovics sees helping local businesses as vital to improving communities.
“Communities greatly benefit when you shop local,” Petrovics said. “It pays our roads, our schools – it really ripples out to the whole community.”
Petrovics said he understands the importance of small business because of his experience in that world. A native of Gulf Shores, he used to work at a seafood market there, and what he remembers most – besides the fishy smell that permeated through his clothes after work – is the relationship between local businesses and people in the community.
“I wanted to build a product and sell it to someone I could connect with, and I knew that was local businesses,” Petrovics said. “We just want to keep growing, and help local businesses grow too.”
The newest version of the app should roll out at the end of the summer.