How RenMind turned a job into a startup

Several years ago Luke Armstrong was working for National Property Inspections, a property inspection company with 225 franchises across the US and Canada. “I had worked there for five years, helping franchisees with all aspects of marketing, making print materials, designing web sites, really thinking about leveraging dollars across identical business units,” said Armstrong. “I learned so…

Photo courtesy of RenMind.
Photo courtesy of RenMind.
Photo courtesy of RenMind.

The RenMind team includes Bryan Buckles, Nic Clapper, Luke Armstrong and Liz Thrash. Photo courtesy of RenMind.

Several years ago Luke Armstrong was working for National Property Inspections, a property inspection company with 225 franchises across the US and Canada.

“I had worked there for five years, helping franchisees with all aspects of marketing, making print materials, designing web sites, really thinking about leveraging dollars across identical business units,” said Armstrong. “I learned so much.”

Over time Armstrong began to grow bored creating the same marketing materials all the time.

“I knew I could basically do the work in half the time that I was working at the shop,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong decided to make an offer to his employer.

“I offer them an exit strategy for me, which was, ‘Hey, would you guys keep me on as a contractor? I think I can do all the work I do now in half the time, so you won’t pay any more than you’re paying now, but I think I can still make twice as much.’

The employer agreed and in 2010 Armstrong joined with Shawn Clapper to form RenMind in Omaha.

The team began developing a suite of custom tools for National Property Inspections and similar companies that couldn’t be found find anywhere in the current SaaS market for franchise businesses.

Eventually, they decided to integrate all these tools into a single platform with a single login.

“At that point we made a strategic play and appealed to the owner of National Property Inspections to buy into our company,” said Armstrong.

National Property Inspections now serves as a strategic partner and primary client for RenMind’s six employee team as they continue to develop their platform for the broader market.

RenMind’s place in the market

This winter RenMind officially launched RenMind Network, which will allow franchise-based companies to manage their web, email and social marketing across multiple locations. The platform manages everything from coupons to reviews, contests and landing pages from a single login.

Although there are other CRM systems that offer similar tools, such as HubSpot,and many of the major players in the market have left franchises alone so far.

“Enterprise-level seem to target corporations which have lots of accounts and have generally ignored smaller franchisors,” said Armstrong.

Moreover, none of the current offerings have been built specifically for franchisors.

“Our main competitive advantage is that we have the knowledge of franchisors, and we started with this idea of scaleable marketing across multiple franchise units,” said Armstrong.

The goal is to create a very simple out-of-the-box franchise marketing suite that can be used by the ordinary local shop owner.

“A one- to two-person shop should be able to manage this,” said Armstrong. “The level of sophistication for the end user is [your] mom or dad. That’s our differentiator.”

Over the long term Armstrong wants to make the experience so easy and so comprehensive that it will significantly lower the cost for a single locations to start franchising.

“We’d like streamline the process of franchising,” said Armstrong. “You’ll know right of the bat that every franchisee you bring on is going to be $50 a month for your full digital marketing experience. It’s never going to cost more because you built it off [our platform]. And you can manage that with one to two people.”

Ryan Pendell is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.

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