Bawte aims to bridge gap between consumers and businesses
Bawte allows users to scan and tag recent purchases (left) and share them with their friends (right).
A few years ago, John Jackovin’s 9-year-old daughter received a significant gift — a Yamaha keyboard. It was an exciting moment for the family, and Jackovin wanted to share it with the world.
Jackovin (left), who had been working in technology for nearly 10 years, quickly discarded the product registration card that came with the keyboard, and he was struck with an idea: What if there were a way to harness the power of mobile technology and social media to share purchases online — something that would make sharing simple and connect people to their favorite businesses?
Enter Bawte, a Des Moines-based startup that aims to bridge the gap between consumers and brands. Bawte is a smartphone application and website that allows users to share their favorite purchases via social networks. The app was released earlier this month into the App Store and Google Play, and Bawte is throwing a launch party at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Big City Burgers and Greens in Des Moines.
Users can set up a Bawte account by connecting to an existing social network, like Facebook. They then use their smartphone to scan the bar code or QR code on a new product. Participating brands can set up business pages for Bawte users to find more information or see others who have posted about a brand’s products.
Brands can connect their own social networks to Bawte, so users can automatically tag them in a tweet or Facebook post. Bawte also allows users to follow a brand on Facebook, Twitter or Google straight from the app.
“I literally connect to Facebook, I scan, and that’s setting up the Bawte account,” said Jackovin, who co-founded Bawte with Tom Love, his longtime business collaborator. “So once you have that, it’s already connected for future items. I just scan, and I can now say ‘Hey, I bought this really cool Yamaha keyboard or I bought this great cup of coffee.' Theoretically it could be anything.”
For consumers, Bawte offers a way to share purchases with their friends. People share their favorite music, shows, movies and activities all the time. Bawte gives them a way to do the same with their purchases. For brands, Bawte provides a means of connecting with the people who love their products.
Bawte is free for users to download, and Jackovin said it would be free for brands to use "for the remainder of the year at least." Jackovin said the plan is to observe how brands utilize the app, then determine a revenue model that works.
“The problem with retail, or really any multi-step distribution channel, is that brands will sell to a retailer, and they’ll go, ‘Oh, I know how much I sell to Walmart and I know how much I sell to this distribution center,’ ” Jackovin said. “But they become masked and walled-off from the people who buy their stuff. There are people out there who are tremendously brand loyal, but the brands have no idea.”
Bawte aims to help brands connect with brand loyalists on a personal level. “Wouldn’t it be cool if a brand could say, ‘Hey, thank you for buying three pairs of my shoes in the last 12 months. We really appreciate it. Here’s $50 off for another pair of shoes,’ ” Jackovin said. “It allows brands to get closer to their customer base as opposed to just thinking of their customer as the retailer.”
For more on Bawte, watch the short introduction video below.