PRISM launches centralised racing platform, Buncheur, and it’s free.
If there’s anything guaranteed to get up our nose, it’s burglars. If there’s anything guaranteed to get us excited, it’s club racing. So, with this in mind, we were intrigued when we were recently contacted by Prism Hubbardproof Apparel about a new initiative they’ve just launched called ‘Buncheur’.
Unlike the rest of the Prism business, which has grown from zero to 4,000 sales p.a. in the space of 24 months, Buncheur has little to do with cycling clothes. Rather, it’s about helping Australian cycling clubs oversee their racing programs more efficiently (and fairly) thanks to a centralised platform that manages the entire race entry process, end to end, as well as assisting handicappers by tracking and aggregating rider results from races across Australia.
From what we’ve seen so far, the Buncheur interface is simple and intuitive, whether you’re on your smartphone or computer. The backend is reasonably sophisticated and Prism is already committed (to the tune of a $250,000 investment from Prism founder, Ollie Rainbow) to making it even better in 2019. And the best bit of all? It’s entirely free for clubs, associations and riders.
Now when we first heard all this, we admit we were a little suspicious. Altruism is great, but nothing is truly free in this world, right? What are they up to, especially given they’re committing $250k into this with no guarantees of seeing a dollar in return? We pushed Prism pretty hard on this, and as they explained it’s all about supporting grassroots cycling and racing, which in time will hopefully deliver a halo benefit to their business.
“Why are we doing this? Because we’re big believers in the concept of alignment,” says Rainbow. “We believe it’s our job as a business to operate in a way that aligns with the needs of our customers. Therefore when we were deciding where to spend our marketing budget, there’s not much point spending it on Team Sky or Bahrain Merida because they aren’t Prism customers. Our customers come from grassroots Australian cycling clubs – and if we can help clubs, committees and their members have better experiences, then clubs will get bigger and, in turn, we’ll most likely sell more kit.”
“There’s not much point spending it (our marketing budget) on Team Sky or Bahrain Merida because they aren’t Prism customers.”
Given there’s no certainty this will actually happen, is Prism worried it could amount to little more than an expensive experiment? “We believe Australian cycling is ready for a business that wants to achieve genuine good for the cycling community, and will reward that company with loyalty and sales,” Rainbow explains, adding he laid out the strategic plan for Buncheur when finishing his MBA. “Sure we could spend $250,000 on more traditional marketing such as Instagram influencers or perhaps sponsoring a team. But creating a system that has the potential to make racing and being a club member better for everyone – including the people we know and ride with ourselves – is what really excites us.”
As for the potential economic payoff? “That’s entrepreneurship,” he says. “There are no guarantees, we just have to see what happens. If there was a model that could justify it to an extent that it wasn’t a risk, well, everyone would do it. As far as we’re aware no private enterprise has ever committed to spending $250,000 for the direct benefit of Aussie cycling clubs before.”
Like all great ideas, Buncheur seems so obvious you can only wonder why no-one has done it already? Then you remember how politicised and fragmented the Aussie club cycling scene has been historically, and perhaps it’s not so hard to understand.
“Buncheur is all about making club members’ lives and experiences better. Instead of disparate spreadsheets and clumsy systems with no ability to integrate with each other, it puts all clubs on a single race entry and race management/handicapping platform for free,” Rainbow adds. “There’s the ability to securely upload and match historic data, so clubs can also use it to accurately handicap riders from day one, which means the days of unequal racing and unjust winnings are numbered. Burglars are dead!”
“We’ve already spoken with a lot of clubs and state associations and most are interested to try it out,” says Rainbow. “If they like it, great. But even if they don’t, it costs them nothing – and hopefully they’ll at least provide feedback to help us make it better.”
“We’ve already spoken with a lot of clubs and state associations and most are interested to try it out.”
This all sounds great and we’re pretty much sold. But one thing still doesn’t feel quite right: if the platform is so good, why not charge a fee to use it, even just a modest one?
“We expect nothing in return,” Rainbow asserts, explaining $50,000 has already been spent to get Buncheur to its current point. “We believe the system can only work when it is free and with no strings attached. We’re even open to a situation where the governing body is administering the system. All we’re interested in is making club cycling better. Once you start adding strings, provisos, caveats, it becomes political again – and not all clubs will go for it. We can’t afford our sport to continue to not have a unified platform. This is our attempt to bridge that gap. We’ve made the platform, it’s ready to go. Clubs just have to decide if they like it or not. In the end we believe the economics of ‘free’ beats politics.”
As Rainbow alludes to, while Buncheur will work perfectly well at an individual club level, the real magic will come from having as many clubs and/or associations as possible using the same system, increasing efficiencies, improving handicapping and tightening the net on burglars. Time will tell if that’s how it plays out, but for the sake of Aussie club cycling, we’re really hoping it does.