Photo by Nolan Schmidt
John Machacek, Chief Innovation Officer for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, has worked with countless startups throughout our community over the past seven years. He knows their ups, their downs, but most of all, he knows the questions to ask them. Here are John Machacek’s 10 questions for PushSave’s Founder Mark Teckenburg.
1. Tell us your PushSave elevator pitch?
PushSave is the only customized mobile coupon book in the market. PushSave brings the discount card or printed our coupon book to your phone and the best part—every customer gets to create their own personalized mobile book by selecting their favorite merchants from a list of local businesses. PushSave is designed specifically for fundraising, which in today’s world is ideal as it is a contactless and community-driven fundraiser.
2. What inspired you to start this app?
I have four children and we have done just about every fundraiser you can imagine—including a pizza fundraiser where we had to deliver pizzas in the cold of winter. I thought there has to be an easier way. With my love for marketing and technology and passion for youth activities, the idea to bring technology to an archaic industry and simplify the process was born. We are also on a mission to ensure every child can participate in an activity and not be denied because they can’t afford it!
3. Who are the typical groups that use PushSave as a fundraiser?
We have groups ranging from elementary school PTA’s, to middle school and high school music departments, high school teams, boy scouts, youth sports clubs and faith-based groups raising money for mission trips. We’ve had groups of 500+ kids down to 5 kids. PushSave really is ideal for any group raising money for a particular cause such as participation fee reduction, equipment or a class trip.
4. Is the PushSave app for local fundraisers? Regional? National?
PushSave started locally here in Fargo but has since grown nationally. We have fundraising happening all across the country all year long. It is exciting for us to see people in Georgia buying PushSave to support their local high school volleyball team or a music department in Virginia raising money for a trip or California for their dance team. With PushSave, a student right here in Fargo can promote their local fundraiser to Uncle Joe who lives in Phoenix AZ. Uncle Joe will find merchants and build his book where he lives! We have taken a local discount card fundraiser and have made it national with nearly 40,000 merchants all across the country.
5. With the markets all over the country, that makes me wonder about how you, as the app provider, logistically and efficiently connect with these retailers to have their coupons. How has that been?
While we do have our own network of merchants in the region, we also have partnerships with merchant content providers who feed their coupon offerings through our system nationwide. This enables PushSave to have a national footprint in order to work with our network of more than 600,000 teams and reach 50 million consumers.
6. I know that you try to operate as efficiently and lean as you can. Do you have any good recommendations for how you do this?
We have a core leadership team with strengths and key areas of expertise to drive our business forward. To run lean, we have an expanded level of support resources external to PushSave who also serve key roles. For example, we outsource our product development team through Network Center and our customer service team is driven by Solugenix (formally SEI). We can leverage these external resources on a variable expenses basis in order to manage growth.
7. Do you keep track of how much money PushSave has saved their users or how much the average person saves?
Analytics is a key component for us to measure our performance. We track total savings of all of our customers nationwide, which is nearly two million dollars today along with how much each group earns through their PushSave Fundraiser. We are always looking for ways to drive these results up and bring the optimum value to the market.
8. If you could go back in time to Mark from a few years ago, what hindsight advice would you give yourself?
Mark, whatever you think it’s going to cost, double it! Mark, whatever you think you are going to sell, cut it in half. Lastly, Mark, however long you think it’s going to take to become profitable—double it. Build your plan and budget around that. But then Mark, do whatever you can to prove yourself wrong and go crush it.
9. How has COVID-19 impacted your operations, for good or bad?
COVID-19 has created a lot of challenges for us, but the biggest challenge has been the lack of youth activities thus the lack of fundraisers being run. We estimate the fundraising industry to be down 65 percent nationwide. However, COVID-19 has also created the opportunity for PushSave to fully exploit one of our key value propositions—the fact that we are contactless! Our fundraisers are all virtual and can be run from a smartphone, thus avoiding the need to go door to door or hand out any products or cash. In the long run, we believe the youth fundraising landscape has changed in our favor.
10. What can we do as a community to help PushSave succeed?
Fargo is an active, vibrant community with many great startups. It’s been difficult to find available talent to help us grow. We want to expand our core team and we are always looking for the right folks to join our core team and be a part of building a nationally recognized brand. We also love when people follow us on social media and help us share our story with friends and family across the country