App firm targets social action
The founders of the smart-phone app BHeard believe there’s money to be made connecting people with social causes, advocacy groups and elected officials.
The BHeard team — Chief Executive Officer Nate Ashley, Chief Technology Officer Brandon Gottier and Director of Marketing J’Neal Hachquet — launched the app on Google Play in late November and were on the Apple store a few weeks later. The trio work in fashionable office space on First Street above Campo in downtown Reno where other technology-based firms are finding a foothold.
Here’s how BHeard works: The app is divided into three sections — inform, organize and influence. In the “inform” category, users can get custom news feeds on issues tailored to their interest. The “organize” category is where individuals can connect with advocacy groups, non-profits and political organizations that support causes in which they are interested, as well as see calls to action from those organizations. Lastly, the “influence” category is where users can access phone, email and social media contact information for elected officials. That information is geographically tailored for users based on their zip code location.
Hachquet says the organize section of BHeard has proven to be the meat and bones of the app.
“There are a number of actions people can complete with just a few simple taps and it makes it easy for them to get involved in social actions,” she says.
The idea for a social-action app stemmed from the founders’ passion for societal causes and politics — but getting involved in a particular cause often proved time consuming. The prevalence of smart phones lent itself to development of the app and its easy-to-use features, Hachquet says.
“This is a really good and streamlined platform for organizations to communicate with their advocates. It’s really an improved social-action communications solution.”
The BHeard team intends to generate revenue by charging annual site licenses for groups interested in posting information and placing calls to action in the “organize” section of the app. BHeard is free for users.
The team already has signed up several paid clients and has more in the pipeline, Hachquet says, but many organizations say they want to see a larger body of users for BHeard before committing funds.
“Because we are a new technology and there really is nothing else on the market, having to convince organizations to try something new is always a challenge,” Hachquet says. “Our sales cycles are a little longer than anticipated because there is a lot of education involved in getting to use something like this.”
The team hopes to expand by adding a sales position in the near future. The founders also seek accelerator funding or venture capital as they work to position the app. They also are running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
“Until we finish closing more deals, we definitely are looking for more investment,” Hachquet says.
From a national standpoint, research shows the embrace of digital commerce is a whole decade ahead of schedule thanks to the pandemic. We spoke with the Retail Association of Nevada, Downtown Reno Partnership and the Reno+Sparks Chamber of Commerce to give local context to the growth of online retail.