Got a Problem? GripeO Might Be Able To Help

By Karl Hughes on May 15, 2013

When Mike Klanac received a set of high quality knives for Christmas, he expected them to last a long time. Only three months later, one of them snapped, leading Mike on a two month chase to track down the company’s customer service department. Eventually, after leaving a message on the company’s Facebook page, Mike got some closure, but he couldn’t help thinking that there must be a better way.

If you’ve ever tried to hunt down a customer service department, you can probably identify with Mike’s problem. Many companies seem to make it difficult to submit a complaint or feedback, so naturally many people are turning to social media. That’s where Mike’s idea for GripeO was born.

The Power of Customer Complaints

You probably haven’t thought about it lately, but customer complaints are actually a very powerful business tool. A customer who is complaining either has made or is about to make a purchase of something that doesn’t meet his expectations. That means that he’s probably also open to hearing about alternatives from competitors. GripeO takes full advantage of this knowledge to deliver your complaints to both the company you’re peeved at as well as their competition who might be willing to offer you a discount if you’re willing to switch.

“Essentially, it helps consumers file complaints,” Mike told me in an interview this week, “and speed is the key.” GripeO will take a customer’s complaint and notify the offending company. If they don’t respond within two weeks, GripeO releases the complaint onto the open market, allowing other companies to reach out and see if they can help.

A Timeline to Launch

Since coming up with the idea, Mike has been relentlessly pursuing GripeO, but until recently it wasn’t clear when everything would be ready for launch. GripeO recently raised $50,000 from Z80 Labs, but raising that money wasn’t an overnight process. “We started out just cold calling places,” Mike told me, “But realized that doesn’t really work. We found a good tactic is to look at startup accelerators and incubators that have a purpose beyond just making money…Z80 was definitely that kind of partner.” Z80 is based in Buffalo New York, a place that Mike is very passionate about. “One of the reasons this kind of city bubbles up is the fantastic talent. There are some great colleges and students in the area, and that gets us excited for GripeO’s future.”

Now with just a couple months until GripeO’s public launch, the real work will begin. Currently Mike is the only full-time partner, but several others will be making the switch thanks to this new wave of cash. “In six months, we’d like to be bringing in revenue,” Mike told me, optimistically. Armed with a great idea and a healthy amount of determination, I have a feeling this is one startup worth watching.

Follow GripeO on Facebook or Twitter.

I'm a technology entrepreneur in digital media, currently serving as the Director of News for Uloop. I recruit writers, work with our partners, and manage our social media efforts. If you ever want to chat or have questions, feel free to give him a call/email: karl@uloop.com (901) 827-9637

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