Partnership with Pocket Points boosts ThreadBare growth

Chief Marketing Officer Kyle Gunby said the team gets an idea of the app’s impact on sales from the amounts of discounts they give and revenue they receive.
MU students look through clothes at ThreadBare, a new gender neutral thrift shop, in the Student Center. Pocket Points helped the student-run business grow. Maneater File Photo

The founders of ThreadBare, the gender-neutral clothing store, have learned a lot during the semester they have spent running their business in the Student Center. The popular mobile app Pocket Points has been both educational and an advertising tool for the group of business majors who launched the store in August.

Pocket Points is an app that rewards students with points for staying off their phones while in class. The points can be redeemed at businesses for a discount.

“At the end of the day, the initiative is to allow students to be incentivised for paying attention in class,” said Jeremy Terman, the campus ambassador and business development representative for Pocket Points at MU. “Our mission is to better the classroom experience, and our way to do that is to incentivise students with coupons.”

To gain access to the app, the ThreadBare team capitalized on their connection with Terman. Chief Marketing Officer Kyle Gunby said Terman reached out to the team in early August, knowing that as a recently created brand, they would be interested in using the app for marketing purposes.

“We want to benefit the students,” Terman said. “We’re trying to work with any organization to benefit them and their cause. If any organization on campus needs help getting the word out, let us help you. We want to help organizations grow their numbers to benefit from Pocket Points.”

ThreadBare didn’t have to pay to partner with the app.

“It was just basically free earned media, so we were pretty stoked about that, and ever since, it’s been a nice little tool for us,” Gunby said.

About 15,000 students have Pocket Points at MU, Terman said. The MU Pocket Points team consists of about 20 students who work with businesses and organizations to partner with the app.

“We thought it was a great idea to have our name alongside businesses like The Heidelberg and Hot Box Cookies, really reputable businesses in Columbia,” Chief Procurement Officer Allison Fitts said.

Gunby agreed that the team saw the app as a great way to promote their budding business.

“We (wanted to) get on this app and be in the palm of a number of different students’ hands on campus, students who might not be able to know of us otherwise and might pass us by in the Student Center,” he said.

While the owners of ThreadBare do not know the specific analytics regarding how many people view their advertisements on Pocket Points, Gunby said they get an idea of the app’s impact on sales from the amounts of discounts they give and revenue they receive.

In the latter half of the semester, Gunby said, he and his co-owners found themselves revamping their discount strategy.

“We were actually seeing a dip in revenue because so many people were using Pocket Points, and we had such easily redeemable coupons,” he said. “We had to go back and revise our coupon offers just because we were losing a little bit of the profit margin that we had already built.”

Terman said that Pocket Points is looking to work with other student organizations and expand to more businesses in Columbia. As a new form of advertising, he said many business owners are eager to reach the students with the app.

“(The businesses) are supporting education because they know that the students are coming to them because they’re paying attention in class,” Terman said. “They’re not only getting people in their door, but they’re also getting people in the door that care about their education.”

As part of the Missouri Student Unions Entrepreneurship Program, ThreadBare will continue to occupy its section of the Student Center until the end of the Spring 2016 semester. As for ThreadBare’s future after it ends its run at MU, Gunby said it is too soon to know anything for certain.

“We’ve had preliminary talks about expanding or re-envisioning the idea of what ThreadBare is and how it can work in a more conventional retail space,” he said. “At this point, those are very preliminary discussions, considering that we’re all seniors, and we’re all trying to figure out what the future holds for us individually, not only as a team.”

Fitts said the success of the store and the business experience the owners have gained will benefit them as they venture into the business world after graduation.

“Whenever you have success in anything, you always see if you can expand that,” she said. “I think we’ve all learned a lot, and I think the future of ThreadBare is more so what all the owners are taking away and putting into place in their own careers.”

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