CINCINNATI - Over-the-Rhine startup Choremonster is closing a door but opening some windows Thursday, as it walks away from subscription revenue with the latest version of its parenting app.
Instead, the company will rely on promotional sponsorships and retail referrals to generate revenue.
“We work with brands to create content for families,” said Alex Bowman, director of marketing for the 9-month-old company. “We saw (subscriptions) as a barrier for parents to sign up for Choremonster. We wanted to grow our user base and focus on generating revenue elsewhere.”
The new business model was developed over the last few months as Choremonster worked with Procter & Gamble Co.’s Oral-B brand on a campaign to promote tooth brushing. Choremonster is an app that parents can use to reward their kids with gifts for completing household chores.
P&G, which announced a partnership with Choremonster last July, reaches consumers with the help of quirky animations in which a blue monster brushes his teeth badly while a boy and girl do it correctly. P&G sent discount offers to families that watched the video.
“Oral B is very tech-minded,” said Choremonster CEO Chris Bergman. “They were the first brand that worked with us.”
The company is now talking to other companies in Cincinnati and elsewhere about deals similar to the Oral B partnership. It also struck a deal with Amazon to let parents purchase their kids’ rewards at Amazon.com. Choremonster gets about 6 percent of each purchase as revenue under the new app launching tomorrow.
Choremonster is a Brandery graduate that has raised $2.3 million from investors, including CincyTech and Detroit Venture Partners, the venture capital firm founded by Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati investor Dan Gilbert.
The company’s original plan was to charge parents up to $49.99 per year. But it now sees business partnerships as a more sustainable revenue source. Parents in 52 countries have downloaded the Choremonster app. The company claims more than 3 million child chores have been completed.
The latest upgrade includes more ways for parents and kids to schedule chores and give bonus points for rewards. It's now available on iPad and supports four new languages: Spanish, French, Italian and German. An Android version of the app is expected in May, along with new versions for Kindle Fire, NOOK and Android tablets.
Choremonster was one of several companies that took part in a Brandery “media day” event organized by WCPO. The event featured panel discussions on how startups can pitch stories to bloggers, media outlets and work with public relations firms.
It also marked the debut of the WCPO Startup Registry , a searchable database that aims to be a networking tool for startups and a research tool for WCPO. Company founders are invited to edit and add to the database. The changes will be monitored by WCPO to keep the list as accurate and up to date as possible. On the registry’s first day, eight companies were added to these and information was updated on 20 more. The list now has 227 startups.
The Brandery event featured an assessment of the Cincinnati startup scene by three groups actively promoting its development: Cintrifuse, CincyTech and the Hamilton County Business Center.
“If you look at national stats, entrepreneurship is flat. But I think Cincinnati is leveraging its assets very well,” said HCBC Director Patrick Longo. “It’s not just this room. It’s Mason. It’s Blue Ash. It’s Norwood, Northern Kentucky as well. Those pockets are starting to get together.”
Cincinnati has seen an increase in “founder talent” and investors willing to back that talent in the last several years, said Bob Coy, president and CEO of CincyTech, a seed-stage investor in technology and bioscience startups.
“We have a solid base to build on right now,” Coy said. “There are companies in this town already attracting (venture capital investments) from the East and West Coast.
There’s so much startup activity right now creating the deal flow.”
To access the WCPO Startup Registry, go to www.WCPO.com/startups .
For more stories by Dan Monk, go to www.WCPO.com/monk . Follow him on Twitter @DanMonk9.