With LivingSocial’s record breaking Amazon deal and Groupon’s upcoming 15 billion dollar IPO, it’s not hard to wonder why following this success, hundreds of similar companies popped up around the world. The simplicity of the underlying technology, the easy sell to merchants, and the red hot demand from consumers made this an incredibly easy service to copy in 2010.
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But in 2011, breaking into the established scene requires a fresh approach; a few companies are doing just that, by replicating the daily deals model within their own tight knit community. Which community? Perhaps the most tight knit and insular of them all, the Jewish market.
The two I found with the most growing power- Jewpon and jdeal. So, who’s got the most chutzpah as a daily deals site? Let’s break it down.
“For us it was about finding a niche, and not being a Groupon or LivingSocial clone. Since we were already familiar with the community of orthodox Jews, the idea was a natural one,” says Jewpon founder Ezzy Duchman.
Duchman launched his Jewish daily deals site on November 1, 2010 using seed money from his brother, who runs Fresh Diet, a daily diet delivery service. With headquarters in North Miami, Florida, Jewpon offers deals in Toronto, Miami, L.A., New York and Jerseulum. They will be launching in Baltimore, Boston and Philadelphia at the end of February.
Jewpon sends out discounts of up to 75% off on Kosher restaurants, events and activities, stores, hotels, photography, fashion and Judaica stores, which sell certain types of products geared towards Jewish holidays.
The site is currently run by three employees and two outside commission-based sales reps in each active city. To this date, Jewpon has partnered with 20 merchants and takes 30% from each deal, unlike giants like Groupon that can take up to 50%.
The site services 6,000 subscribers, 3,000 of which are in New York City, 1,000 in Israel, 700 in Miami and the rest are spread across the U.S. For every city, Jewpon offers one daily deal and then provides a backlog of other still active deals. Today, in New York, it has a total of 9 active deals. Most deals in New York are restaurant or event oriented with deals such as $12 for $20 worth of a sushi at a restaurant in Coney Island.
The overall site design is skeletal and leaves much to be desired in terms of aesthetics. Functionality wise, the site includes Facebook and Twitter logins and lets you track all of your received, gifted and refunded coupons. You can import friends through MSN, Yahoo and Gmail.
While the deals are open to everyone, Jewpon’s 10 commandments include offering hand-picked quality merchants that are Kosher and Rabbinicaly Supervised and not offering deals on Shabbos, from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sunset.
Jodi Samuels and Allen Ganz created jdeal. For six days, they sought incredible deal after incredible deal…and on the 7th day, they closed them. And jdeal was born.
JDeal, which launched on November 22nd, is a self-funded Jewish daily deals site headquartered in New York City. Prior to founding jdeal, Samuels co-founded Metroimma, an online site for Jewish moms, with over 6,000 active monthly members.
“New York City is a great place to launch because it has the largest Jewish community in the world outside of Israel, plus we have a high socioeconomic class and massive tech industry. It’s an easy first target with such huge clusters of Jews in a small geographic area,” says Samuels.
In addition to partnering with over 50 merchants, jdeal has worked with the Jewish National Fund, one of the largest global charities. The site boasts 7,5000 users just in New York City. They plan to launch into other cities in the next few months such as LA, Miami, Chicago and Boston.
JDeal’s restaurant and food deals have to have some sort of Kosher supervision, but it seems looser than Jewpon’s 10 commandments. 60% of jdeals are Jewish specific while the remaining could be anything like a visit with a personal trainer or a trip to the hair salon. All jdeals range rom 50-70% off of the original price and can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, Buzz and email.
The 11-person team at jdeal outsourced its site design to Ogilvy, which really paid off. It’s a much better looking site than Jewpon and that’s intentional. “We went with Ogilvy to set ourselves apart as the premium Jewish brand,” explains Samuels.
One last site needs mentioning, jewKey, another daily deals site that focuses on the Jewish Community. The site declined to comment or answer my emails so I’m unable to go into too much detail.
At its base, jewKey offers exclusive Kosher deals up to 90% in just five towns, some of which are actually just neighborhoods- Boro Park, Flatbush, Lakewood, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Deals like $6 for $12 of Kosher sushi (Koshi?) and 50-person buy in bagel deals are the extent of its offerings for now. It seems like this site is very niche, focusing on predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn, while tackling Manhattan and Queens.
Bottom Line: For it’s international business reach and 100% pure Kosher deals, Jewpon takes the lead. But for its design, deals offered and growth potential based on its early success in New York City, jdeal comes out a winner.