Start-up: Locate My Deal
Location: St. Paul
Key players: Joseph Rueter, Nate Kadlac, Neil Berget, and Aaron Kardell
Web site: locatemydeal.com
According to tech bloggers, this year’s SXSW focused on daily deal start-ups. With the recent success of sites such as Groupon and Living Social, entrepreneurs are hungry to get a piece of the action.
Aaron Kardell and the three other cofounders of Locate My Deal developed a Web site and app that compiles deals from multiple sources and groups them together based on the user’s location. The platform makes it easy for users to browse through a collection of local deals without having to sift through an endless number of e-mails and mailings.
What started as a Friday night pitch is now one of a handful of local start-ups that launched from November’s Startup Weekend.
Kardell shares his expertise on getting an app ready for the market:
Everyone seems to be launching the next Groupon, and you appear to be capitalizing on that. Tell us more about how Locate My Deal works.
I recently counted 29 daily deal sites with a presence in the Twin Cities. As much as I love getting a deal, I don’t want to sift through 29 e-mails every morning.
Daily deals are getting a lot of attention because the deals are substantial—often 50 percent or more off. But they represent a rather limited subset of all of the deals available to consumers. Numerous restaurants offer $10 off a $30 purchase, for example, and don’t require purchasing the deal on a specific day in advance.
Our goal is simple: We want to provide the one place for consumers to get access to all local deals. We currently provide that access through an iPhone app, Web site, and mobile Web site. And an Android app is coming soon. So far, we’ve gathered a few hundred thousand deals in over 15,000 cities. And we make those all readily available to consumers—tied to a specific location—so you can find something nearby and use it immediately.
The deals come from multiple sources, like Groupon, Living Social, Valpak, Money Mailer, and even Craigslist. You can instantly see on a map where the nearest deal is—whether it’s for a restaurant, retail store, or service business. Many of the deals can be redeemed just by showing your phone to the merchant. And for the daily deals, we provide a simple interface at the top of the app to quickly browse all of them.
We’re also experimenting with digitizing the Sunday circulars and placing those in-app. So if you scroll on the map to a Best Buy, for example, you can easily view all their weekly specials.
Your app is free. How do you plan to monetize?
The app is free and will remain so. We get a percentage of sales made through our site and apps. Over time, there will be a variety of opportunities for merchants to sponsor featured deals.
Signing up currently requires an invitation. Is this part of a beta process or is there a marketing angle?
We’re still in private beta, so access requires an invitation. People can “move to the front of the line” in waiting for an invite by telling their friends about Locate My Deal through Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail.
What has the process of developing and implementing your app been like?
It’s been really great working with such a high-caliber team. Everyone brings something unique to the table. Nate is one of the best designers in the Twin Cities. Neil and Joseph have valuable shared experience from their start-ups Extendr and Curation Station. Everyone has a very pragmatic desire to get the right things done at the right time.
We continually adjust our priorities based on where opportunities are and the feedback we’re getting from private beta testers. The first version of our iPhone app was in testers’ hands in November. It’s exciting to see how much has changed and improved since then.
Aside from press coverage, how do you plan to spread the word?
There are some natural points in the app that allow users to share great deals they’ve found with one another. So we hope to spread through word of mouth and are providing ways to encourage that. In addition, we’re talking with a number of potential partners—national brands, media companies, etc.—that would have a mutual interest in spreading word about our app in connection with their deals.
Finally, I’ve learned a few things along the way about marketing apps through iGarageSale and MobileRealtyApps.com that will fit very nicely with our strategy, as well.
Based on your app experience, what advice can you share with us?
Two things come to mind: First, apps need to provide continuing value for long-term engagement. Apps like Facebook, Twitter, and many games encourage long-term repeat usage because there’s always a reason to come back. And then there are a number of apps that only get used once. With everyone's desire to have an app, sometimes more thought needs to be given as to why people will desire to come back to use the app a second and a third time.
Second, I believe that for many apps there are a variety of effective monetization strategies that go beyond having consumers pay to download the app. Take the MobileRealtyApps.com business I’m involved in: Consumers benefit by downloading a free home search app. Brokers and agents benefit through leads generated by the apps from interested and engaged home buyers. And MobileRealtyApps.com benefits when brokers and agents benefit.