Bernard Briggs knew that in the high-end hospitality and restaurant business, the experience a customer has is often just as important as the quality of the meal they eat. And details of a bad experience that gets spread around on social media can begin or accelerate the downfall of small businesses that already face a high failure rate.
Briggs’ background as the former Chief Technology Officer for Austin digital ad agency T3 and more than two decades total in software gave him the know-how to design a platform to let customers provide fast and easy feedback on their dining experience before leaving the restaurant. The benefit there being twofold: Owners and operators quickly learn what their strengths and weaknesses are, and customers who offer their opinion – good or bad – to the restaurant itself are less likely to take to Yelp or other online sites, where bad reviews can spread like wildfire.
The result of Brigg’s market intuition is Humm Systems, an Austin company that uses tablet technology enabled with its customer feedback platform to provide valuable data on experience and satisfaction. Formed in 2012, the company currently is active at 400 locations in the hospitality and healthcare sectors, both of which are ripe for companies that can find ways to improve experience.
Briggs said there are 40,000 high-end restaurants that fit Humm’s client profile, and the company’s recent expansion into health care – with customers such as Austin Regional Clinic, MedSpring Urgent Care and components of Ascension Health as early customers – provides potential to fuel its triple-digit growth for years to come.
Customer sites pay a yearly fee to the company that can be split up into monthly or quarterly installments, though Briggs declined to disclose Humm’s revenue.
After a seed round of funding in 2015, the company is working on a Series A round of funding, though Briggs declined to disclose the size of the round. Closing that capital raise will let Humm scale up its sales and marketing efforts in a big way and grow from its current nine employees to about 30 by the end of 2017. The company is also exploring opportunities in new sectors such as real estate and big box retail.
“I’ve got 77 (marketing) campaigns ready to launch,” Briggs said of Humm’s plans to increase market penetration. “We help build new relationships and with restaurants it’s easy for us to help them get a (customer) email address, which has a value of about $2.50 each by itself.”
And there’s another wrinkle down the road for Humm’s business prospects, with the company accumulating a massive amount of consumer behavior data that can be easily leveraged for consulting purposes. Briggs said Humm is currently only using less than 1 percent of its data for predictive purposes, but sees a day in the future when it can provide analysis of how a given restaurant or health care business will perform while it’s still in the conceptual phase.
“We’ve got it structured so we can easily aggregate the data we’ve been building,” he said. “There’s a lot we’ll be able to do in terms of predictive analysis.”