Monday, 19 August 2013 16:28

Subzy - Collect membership payments faster

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Innovation happens all the time and everywhere: Inside a company or outside, whether getting started alone or with a co-founder from day one. Once you’re bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, there is no turning back.
Once in a while we get asked by people what to do until they find a co-founder. Our answer is usually the same: Make as much progress as you possibly can. Because that will show to others that your team is worth joining.

We had the chance to talk with Matt, single founder of Subzy, about the origins of his idea and how it all started. Quite different from the usual co-founder story - because there isn’t one. At least not in the typical sense most people think about co-founding. But that does not mean Matt didn’t have a lot of help.

Read how Matt started a business which in turn lead to the creating of Subzy.

Matt’s background

I am the sole founder. I have no business partner at this stage. My digital journey began in 1995 as a grad designing title blocks for architectural drawings on a Power Mac 6300. It was in front of one of those things that my interest in all things digital began. In the 15 years since then I have worked in both small and large design businesses consulting to a diverse range of organizations in the areas of user centred design and digital strategy.

In 2001 I founded Surface Media (now known as Surface Digital), after working through the dot com boom with the Swish Group in Melbourne, Australia. At Surface I have worn many hats, from principle user experience consultant and lead interface designer to UX Director, and have established long and successful working relationships with clients such as the Australian Government, the ABC, The AFL, Silcar, Estée Lauder Companies, Diversity Council Australia, and the Australian Multicultural Education Service (AMES).

At Surface I lead a creative and talented team of developers and user experience designers. Together we have designed and development of a suite of web based applications and products that continue to provide the agency with the building blocks for the ongoing delivery of leading edge digital solutions.

In 2013, Surface Digital's AFL Membership Website Platform was selected as a finalist in the Best Sport category at the 19th AIMIA Awards.

The idea is born

Over a period of many years, while working with a broad range of member-based organizations in Australia including AFL & NRL football leagues, professional associations and businesses it occurred to our team that smaller membership based businesses were experiencing the same sets of challenges as the larger ones. With limited staff contact hours and limited budgets, it can a big challenge finding the time to execute all the tasks required to manage a membership base of any size. Staying on top of renewals, chasing payments, processing applications, organizing events, updating a public website, creating reports and getting newsletters out regularly are just a few of the great many responsibilities of those who are responsible for managing a membership database.

Through our work with sporting clubs and associations at Surface Digital we were already familiar with a number of the more visible membership management products on the market. To understand the existing product landscape in more detail we decided to take a lean approach. Initially we consulted with users of some of the established products and researched the capabilities and pricing of a number of the alternatives being offered online. We also identified and documented the needs and views of a number of ‘early adopters’ who were (and still are) active in the role of membership manager at some small local member based organizations.

What we found was that that there are a number of mature membership management tools on the market, most of them attempt to provide ‘all in one’ solutions that include website management, events management, e-marketing, CRM and even competition management, but fail to excel in delivering anything to a high standard, or to a price point that would be justifiable to a small group. In addition to the feeling that the customers of these products were ultimately paying for features that they would seldom use or that are poorly executed, none of the solutions that we reviewed seemed to be optimized for any kind of mobile user experience.

Our conclusion is that while a solution that combines a CMS, Events Management, CRM and Competition Management System may be appealing to larger sporting associations or peak industry body looking to put all their eggs in one basket, smaller member based organizations around the world could benefit from a lower cost solution designed specifically to help them administer their membership database and collect fees. Our assertion is that these types of customers would be happy to pay for such as service provided the tools meet their most critical needs, are of the highest quality and competitively priced.

The global market includes sports clubs, personal trainers, education services, as well as any business that needs to collect regular payments from customers.

From idea to paying customers

We designed and built Subzy in the second half of 2012 in several two week sprints. Now, we are iterating on it each sprint now.

screenshot subzy
The platform is being used by a number of clients some of who are using it for free while others have signed up for paid plans. The feedback from the early clients is extremely positive with clubs praising its simplicity and ease of use, as well as reporting that they are collecting fees faster than ever. The next phase of development will involve enhancing additional features to provide even greater value to subscribers. They are moving to a new payment model that will allow Subzy to take a commission on all online payments, enhanced database importing and email notification reporting are two things that are high on the list of priorities.

By now, there are five from the Surface Digital team working on Subzy. And they are making giant strides to increasing traction as they are getting ready to raise a seed round and accelerate customer acquisition.

If you are handling the membership management of small or medium sized organization, have limited hours in the day, and are looking for a way to organize and collect your membership fees faster, make sure to check out Subzy.

And if Subzy sounds like a startup you'd like to join, make sure to contact Matt since he's looking for another developer to team up with.