When it comes to important community and company projects, people want to be involved when a decision that is going to affect them is made. From a commercial perspective, organisations running projects genuinely want these stakeholders involved, but struggle do make this happen in an effective and efficient manner.
Traditionally, when organisations try to engage with a community they end up reaching a smaller cross section of the population, often the same profile of person. In addition to then not having the right tools to inform, involve and engage a community, this leads to dissatisfaction among stakeholders and, in many cases, can cause delays and further expenses within a project.
Social Pinpoint, founded by Charles Connell and Colin Goudie, is looking to change that with its platform that gives organisations the tools needed to engage all relevant individuals in a project.
“The way it works is a council or organisation signs up to a subscription that suits their needs, the user then sets up their project, promotes it, and then starts collecting data from the community,” says Connell. “Stakeholders in that project can then go to the project page, get information about what the project is, and its key features. Whoever is running the project can then ask these people questions and gather feedback on the elements they need, such as specifics around the planning and decision making process.”
The platform allows people to have their say and respond to questions, and it allows the user running the project to know not only what people are thinking, but also where they are as well, because when someone gives feedback a pin drops on a map to show their location. It is powerful data.
Considering how old the startup is, it has some significant traction thus far. Social Pinpoint started off with one local council using the platform in the Newcastle area, which then grew into three councils. The platform now has around 140 clients not just within Australia but also New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. Some of those organisations include New South Wales Planning & Environment, Transurban, Roads & Maritime, CSIRO, and Port Metro Vancouver.
Social Pinpoint has a tiered pricing structure. To use the platform for one project will set a user back $1,999.00 for three months, while an annual subscription can be purchased for $9,996.00. When you actually look at the money that is spent on getting feedback from community (or lack thereof) traditionally, this is a sound price range, as evidenced by the various government departments using the platform.
The platform helps project managers do what they would never be able to do without the scale power technology provides. For example, a town called Woolgoolga just north of Coffs Harbour ran a project to gain feedback on a project about the Pacific Highway bypass. The town has a population of 5,000 and over 2,000 residents engaged with the project on Social Pinpoint, where those in charge of the project received around 600 to 700 comments and over 7,000 interactions like votes, sub-commentary and sharing on social media that enabled decision makers to reach a more informed decision about the project.
Social Pinpoint recently took part in the NRMA Jumpstart Program, and to date has bootstrapped the entire operation.
“We’ve been really lucky that we’ve been able to bootstrap, because we’ve had such early traction and support from some of our local councils,” says Goudie.
“They’ve been excellent in supporting us and helping us with design and building the product, giving us continuous feedback. So while we are focused on pushing out to Australians, we’ll continue to back ourselves. That’s why we sought to join the NRMA Jumpstart Program, to help us work out a strategy that would allow us to scale and push Social Pinpoint into all these different markets. When it’s the right time we’ll consider taking on capital to help accelerate that process. NRMA has been great in promoting feedback on just the structure of business and advice on how we should be running it.”