The tech industry in our fair city is exploding, with big names like Blue Acorn and BoomTown leading the way for online innovation and job growth. However, there is a new player on the scene that is committed to serving one of the Lowcountry's most entrenched industries: hospitality.
CrowdReach is the brainchild of Trey Rust, a Mount Pleasant resident who has worked for several years in the local tech industry. Rust worked with major companies in the tech-security arena, like Blackbaud and Booz Allen Hamilton, before striking out on his own to fill the niche he sees in Charleston and ultimately the nations growing application economy—the ability for small businesses to reach their customers more easily on the web.
Readers may be familiar with products from large marketing companies like ConstantContact, MailChimp, or HootSuite, that attempt to solve communication products for businesses. However, CrowdReach is different.
One of the major ways through which these companies make money is by selling data collected on both users and consumers using their services. CrowdReach, Rust says, will not collect or sell any such data.
“CrowdReach allows users to control both the message and the medium,” said Rust.
The smooth design of CrowdReach's new app, which launches next Monday, is intended to be intuitive for even the most technologically incapable of the Holy City's food and beverage crowd to use. When Trey was working on his vision for the project, he thought about bartenders as a major target audience. The app creates a simple space through which small business owners or employees can manage email and text message outreach as well as social media presence directly from their phone.
Users can add photos and hashtags to any message before sending across all platforms
Another cool feature of the app is the ability to choose which "Crowd" the user wants to interact with. Different lists can determine how many messages, how often, and what is shared with which specifically-curated customer base. The concept seems to fit hand-in-hand with the needs of one of the peninsula's most obvious economic pulls, giving CrowdReach a distinctly Charlestonian feel. A foreseeable use of this capability would be for restaurants or bars to offer limited-time specials to regulars, or even the customers currently in the bar.
Businesses refine their reach with community, radius, and time settings
"It's usually a 90% dealing with technology, 10% creative freedom, time-devotion kind of thing. We want to flip those numbers on their head," said Rust.
Beyond the real-time marketing capabilities of the app, small-business owners with little technological acumen will also be able to create personalized and ready-to-post ads directly within the application. It's a one-stop-shop for local business reaching out online. The app, which up until now has only been available to a small group of around 50 beta-testers, launches to the public on Monday, April 18.
Starting at the beginning of next week, you can purchase the app, or download the free version—which includes only social media capablities—through the App Store. I have a feeling we will be hearing more from this team in the future (a customer-facing app, called MyReach, is in the works for early 2017).
Learn more about CrowdReach here.