The Origins of memboGo

Published January 10, 2017
In the summer of 2007, I was putting the finishing touches on a business plan for a brand new, freshly incorporated entity, HPJ Solutions Inc. After having worked in the world of large corporations as a young IT technician for more than 12 years, including a number of years in Europe, I gave myself the mission to help small and medium-sized Canadian companies access high value-added technological products and services.

At the time, Facebook, the Cloud and smartphones were still budding projects. Many organizations did not yet have a website and buying online was still seen as risky business.

Content management software (CMS) such as WordPress and Joomla! were still in their first versions. During a business flight between Paris and Montreal, to pass the time, I bought a magazine that explained how CMS works. A few hours later, I decided to use Joomla! to fulfil my new company's mission: to offer small organizations the ability to have a website and manage their content independently. Our first WebAccess package was born!

HPJ Solutions had three sectors of activity: web hosting, consulting and development. In its first five years, a team formed around me and we developed hundreds of websites for our clients. We developed an expertise in the field of nonprofits, specifically charities and professional associations. We quickly gained an understanding of their needs and developed software components for their websites. These were the beginnings of memboGo.

Without the Cloud at our fingertips and, more importantly, the SaaS business model (i.e. selling software as a service that can be remotely accessed via the internet), we developed technical components that we ended up reusing for every client. For example, we developed a module to manage an association's members and a module to manage a donation campaign. As time went on, our modules became more and more comprehensive and we started to stand out from the competition by providing them for free. We were able to computerize non-profit business processes at affordable prices. We understood their needs and we had the technologies to meet them. However, for each client, we had to develop the software in one way or another (for example, every organization had its own form to recruit members). Over the years, we found ourselves managing dozens of websites, covering the same functional needs, but which did not share the same source code. Due to economic constraints, we were unable to develop all of the websites at the same time and offer the latest technologies to all of our clients without asking to be compensated for it.

I wanted to go one step further and find a way to help nonprofits (NPOs) benefit from all of the latest internet technologies at the lowest possible price.

In January 2013, the technologies available helped us meet this challenge and the HPJORG project was launched: a configurable, secure and sustainable software in constant evolution, offered at an affordable price. In other words, we aimed to create a web-based software that would respond to the needs of the vast majority of NPOs. We wanted a software that could manage members, events and donations, launch an online store, offer CRM capabilities, carry out newsletter campaigns, simplify accounting procedures and implement all of these functions using a single website interface. The challenge was daunting! But we had experience with web hosting, developing information technologies and, more importantly, a deep understanding of how different types of NPOs worked.

In December 2013, the first version of HPJORG was launched. A few months earlier, the Federation of Kinesiologists of Quebec entrusted us with the building of a web platform to manage their members, events and conferences. Following that first deployment, dozens of associations and foundations adopted our all-in-one platform. In the first few years, we adjusted the software for almost every new client. As a result, our software was developed in iterations with the help of our clients who explained each of their needs in detail.

At the end of 2015, the name “memboGo” was adopted and we completely revamped the user interface that is still in use today.

memboGo is used by hundreds of organizations and their members in Canada and France. A team of 15 people works full-time between Montreal and Paris to fulfil our mission: to allow NPOs to benefit from internet technologies at an affordable price.

HPJ Solutions is now HPJ Agency, a team of 40 specialists who has made the plural sector one of its specialities by developing a strategic vision. 

We would like to thank everyone who has put their faith in us these past five years. You won't regret it! This is just the beginning of an extraordinary adventure with memboGo.

Watch our video on the origins of memboGo (in French)
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