Today Ann Arbor, MI-based Larky announced its public launch out of beta to help users who are members of an association or customer loyalty program take better advantage of their rewards and benefits. Based on the idea that members of organizations like AAA or alumni and professional associations, in addition to others like retailers, credit card companies, and local tourist attractions like zoos, don’t take advantage of their member-only discounts, the company’s web and iPhone app aims to save them money.
The company started beta testing in August of last year and to date has over 2,000 associations and loyalty programs in its database, which promote its service to over 450,000 members. Co-founded by Andrew Bank and Gregg Hammerman, the duo previously founded a digital information platform called Techstreet which they later sold to Thomson Reuters, and came back together to tackle the problem after feeling a pain point in their own lives.
“Larky grew out a personal problem. I’m a grown up with memberships to all kind of things, things I never thought of as memberships. I have a Visa card in my pocket, I’m a member of the kid’s museum in town, I have AAA, I’m a member of my alumni association. And every one of these sends me mail once a year, because you’re a member you’ve got this discount here, perk there,” said Hammerman in an interview with BetaKit. “It was comical to me some of them are so not linked to each other. Literally if you were a member of a zoo you got a discount at a paint store…it’s impossible to remember these things.”
After signing up for Larky users go through the startup’s database of associations and select the ones they’re part of in order to populate a personalized perks dashboard that shows their rewards based on all their memberships. Leveraging ambient location technology, the iPhone app sends users users push notifications, which they can customize based on their preferences, that remind them to redeem their discounts as they walk down the street. Through the web app, they can also do a search for a particular location and see which perks apply. The retailer or organization will authenticate that person’s membership when they redeem a perk, for example showing their AAA card to the cashier.
The service is free for end users and instead makes its revenue from the organizations and associations for whom it helps drive renewals, and helps keep existing members engaged. It doesn’t share any individual’s information but instead provides an aggregate on what kind of discounts their members are redeeming or are interested in so they can understand what discounts work and which are a waste of their resources. It’s also looking to see if targeted offers akin to those provided to members of platforms like Mint also make sense down the road.
In terms of the competitive landscape, Hammerman said associations like AAA and loyalty platforms like American Express do have their own mobile apps, however, the key benefit Larky provides to their users is not having to download a single app for each association they’re part of. On the flip side, BetaKit has covered several ambient location-aware apps that alert shoppers of discounts based on which store they are at, including Shopular and Shopkick. Larky looks to differentiate from those apps by delivering perks that are more exclusive in nature rather than something available to the general public.
The startup is actively working to expand its database of associations, in addition to working on an Android app, a browser extension that will remind shoppers of their perks while shopping online, and adding more features to its current platform. With a focus on helping users get more out of their memberships, which they often pay for, Larky could simplify the redemption process for users, and in saving them money, help associations find and keep new paying members.
Read more about startup launches on BetaKit.