Great technology startup ideas can come from anywhere. The subject of this week’s Featured Company of the Week came from the waiting room of a high-end car wash!
Brent Oakley worked in medical sales for nearly 15 years before he took a leap of faith in himself in 2012 and started his own business, which happened to be a faster, better car wash experience. His gamble paid off and Prime Car Wash now has three Central Indiana locations with a fourth opening soon and a fifth location opening in Florida.
It was through this entrepreneurial venture that Brent discovered how critical the mood at location-based businesses is to creating exceptional customer experiences that drive sales and keep customers coming back.
He would painstakingly choose playlists designed to delight his high-end customers, but return to a location and discover his younger employees had changed the playlists to music they prefered. He was also frustrated by the challenges of entrusting the same young employees, inexperienced in sales, with up-selling to premium services and introducing new products and services to customers.
Those key pain points were the spark that prompted Brent to found Vibenomics (formerly Fuzic), a marketing tech software and services company that enables location-based businesses to to create and control a vibe with custom audio marketing that increases sales and has a positive impact on every aspect of the business.
Brent OakleyCo-founder and CEO
“What we’re able to do with our software and services is to help our customers create a vibe and an energy for their own customers, and their employees too, that drives the economics of their business. Hence the new name—Vibenomics.”
People definitely make choices to visit certain stores and businesses based on the energy and vibe they get from the place. Coffee drinks at McDonald’s are half the price of any Starbucks concoction, but you won’t find legions of hipsters, business professionals, soccer moms and dads or any other non-octogenarian demographic plugging-in their MacBooks, unpacking strategies, or coffee klatching at McDonald’s the way they do at Starbucks.
The big difference between what was already on the market and what Vibenomics offers it’s location-based business customers is an easy-to-use app that allows them to submit and receive customized, professionally recorded announcements the same day they request them. These technological advancements and process improvements over competitors allow business owners to:
- Promote products/services faster and increase the revenue potential for every customer
- Educate customers on new products and offers as they become available
- Drive customers to websites or apps for coupons and promotions.
This author, whose past experience includes working with small local shops up to a large national branded competitor in the same general market space, can attest to the monumental, nearly full-time job it can be dealing with all of the moving parts of location-based music and marketing messaging.
Whether it was writing scripts and selecting appropriate voice talent for on-hold messaging, or selecting song lists and incorporating commercial promotions for retail and display spaces, the process could take weeks when I was handling these functions in previous roles. The prospect of making a few selections on a mobile app and deploying a final product the same day would have been impossible when I was doing it, and it’s every bit as revolutionary in today’s marketplace.
The company’s rapid success is undeniable proof of its appeal. In less than a year, Vibenomics grew from a startup with an minimum viable product software platform to a thriving tech scale-up business with 30 full-time employees and one of the region’s most recognizable tech leaders at the helm of its board of directors.
Earlier in the month, Founder and CEO Oakley and Executive Chairman Scott McCorkle were joined by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness at a press conference to announce that Vibenomics (still called Fuzic at the time) will create up to 255 new jobs and invest $3.6 million in a new offices in the Braden Building in Fishers’ Nickel Plate District, which will be triple the size of their current offices. The IEDC offered Fuzic up to $3.5 million conditional tax credits and up to $145,000 in training grants based on the number of jobs they create.
Here’s what Oakley and McCorkle had to say in the official expansion announcement:
“Our marketing software has capabilities far exceeding the distribution of music,” McCorkle said. “We enable location-based businesses to create and control a vibe with custom audio marketing that will drive the economics of the business, and we now have a name that speaks to that mission.”
“This is an incredibly exciting time for us as a company. We set out to provide an agile software solution for playing music and messaging, and we’ve quickly developed into much more,” said Vibenomics CEO Brent Oakley. “We recognize that every business has a unique vibe, and we’re here to help them curate, control, and capitalize on the customer engagement they create in their space.”