A new tech startup called Gripe-O is picking up speed in Buffalo. The founding partners (Nicholas Campanile, Mark Taylor, Jim Proulx, Richard Panek, Stephen Makula and Michael Klanac Jr.) all worked together at Liquid Matrix, a Buffalo tech start-up that was purchased by Datatel (now Ellucian).
The premise behind Gripe-O is to take the art of “business complaint management” to the next level. For instance, a customer complains to Gripe-O through its website or phone app. Gripe-O acts as the middle man essentially. After the complaint has been registered , the company that is presented with the gripe has the ability to make things right, resulting in Gripe-O mediating both parties until appropriate satisfaction is met on both ends. The end result can vary… from simply identifying a customer error or prompting the business to issue a coupon to remedy the complaint. The unique part is that if a company decides not to respond to a complaint, then the ‘gripe’ gets put up to bid to competitors that hope to win over consumers (via coupons, discounts, etc). Gripe-O will even help to orchestrate the switch in brand loyalty. “We’re happy to launch this in Greater Buffalo,” Jim Proulx, company partner and Director of User Experience, told me. “Because this app allows smaller businesses the ability to compete against larger corporations where products and services are concerned. There’s a lot of technical talent in Buffalo that we are hoping to tap into, thanks to our higher education resources. We’ve been working with Z80 Labs locally, which has been an incredible opportunity as they are the leader in the tech incubation space in Buffalo.”
Gripe-O (Check out this video link for a demonstration)
Gripe-O is currently being developed in Buffalo, and the city will soon become our regional launch pad. The business is now in QA phase of its MVP stage and is seeking additional seed funding. So far, Gripe-O has been incubating with Z80 Labs, which happens to be the lead investor. At the same point, the team is wrapping up with a second investor, and is in diligence mode with six other investors. Ultimately, the tech company is one third of the way towards closing its seed funding round which is $530,000 – a sum that will cover operation and marketing expenses for one year. “It’s been almost a year now since we began this project,” said Jim. “Our goal is to disrupt the complaint management space. Only one of 26 people that have a legitimate complaint actually end up delivering it to a company. At the same time each of those people will verbally tell 20 of their friends. So we want to streamline the complaint process, and the data provided to businesses will help them to identify systemic issues with both customer service and product quality. There are other players in the space, but they are mostly communicators of complaints from consumer to business… we are an actual mediator.”
At this point, Gripe-O is launching a Greater Buffalo customer service survey in which they are hoping to gain insight into consumers’ perspectives as they relate to customer service in the region. From there the tech start-up will use that data to entice businesses to authenticate with the service. If you have a spare moment, why not take the survey… and help a local start-up in the process?