By Riley Kaminer
Americans love collecting points on their purchases. The average American has somewhere around 17 subscriptions to loyalty programs, of which there are almost 4 million. (Life, liberty, and the pursuit of loyalty points?) It’s also a big business – brands around the world spend an estimated $75 billion on customer loyalty management each year.
“But more than 80% of people don’t know how to use these loyalty program memberships,” asserted Bernard “Robin” Baker. “There’s huge value being lost there.”
Baker felt this himself years ago. When traveling for business, he procured a book of paper coupons. “I’d normally trash them, but this time I decided I was going to use them,” he told Refresh Miami. Baker placed them in his top dresser drawer: a location where they would be impossible to overlook.
Then the inevitable happened. “I opened the book up six months later and they were all expired,” said Baker. “I thought there should be a digital solution.”
At the time, West Palm Beach-based Baker was a practicing lawyer and ran a title company. But on the side, he started working on developing a way for consumers to take full advantage of their loyalty program memberships. This would eventually evolve into startup UseMyBenefits.
Fast forward to June 2021, Baker retired and decided to double down on UseMyBenefits. “Our idea is that you walk into a store, sit down in a restaurant, or buy something online, and you’ve got one place to go – one button to press – to figure out whether there is a benefit you can use,” he explained.
Once users input the programs they participate in, they can then input the name of a store and determine whether they’re leaving any points on the table. UseMyBenefits also suggests programs for users to join to maximize the points they receive for their spending. Currently, UseMyBenefits has 15,000 users and is connected to 12 loyalty programs.
The startup is currently taking part in the ninth FAU Tech Runway cohort. Baker described participating in this accelerator as a “powerful” experience. He particularly enjoys the mentorship that comes from the program, as well as the ability to meet new potential partners.
UseMyBenefit’s 10-person team is distributed, but Baker said that he prefers hiring local talent whenever possible. “I like to have someone locally so that I can develop a stronger relationship with them,” he explained. “That’s important because – assuming we’re successful – we’re going to need considerable technical expertise.”
For Baker, this entrepreneurial endeavor is a so-called “encore” career – an increasingly common phenomenon in an era where we’re living longer and working longer than ever before. “Many people retire and then play golf for a month and realize that this is not the life for them,” he said. “Now there are a bunch of different opportunities for people to continue using their minds.”
Looking forward, Baker is exploring potential partnerships with larger companies in the space to further amplify the startup’s mission. But if that doesn’t work out, he is open to the idea of finding some investors to help bring UseMyBenefits to the next level.
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