The daily deals scene is massive right now, but it’s also growing stale. The simplicity of the underlying technology, the easy sell to merchants, and the red hot demand from consumers spawned hundreds of copycat companies in 2010. LivingSocial’s record breaking Amazon deal and Groupon’s upcoming 15 billion dollar IPO are two signs that this is an industry worth paying attention to, but for the early adopters and tech enthusiasts in the room, daily deals are about as interesting as sliced bread.
Scoop St. was one of the first daily deal companies to hit the scene in 2008, offering a variety of marquee businesses and experiences to New York City. Don’t be fooled: they are in no way a copycat service, and are in fact several times more interesting and innovative than the rest of the pack. Here’s why:
Commerce and Content
In December of last year, Scoop St. partnered with The New York Observer to offer co-branded “Scoops” aka special, targeted NYC-centric deals for Observer readers. For example, a bus trip to Woodbury Commons Mall, a big outlet mall outside of New York City was offered to New York Observer readers who fell into the “Bergdorf Blonde” category.
Scoop St. first made a name for itself in spring 2010, when they held the “Taste of 7th Street Food Festival,” offering signature dishes to over 1,000 consumers half-off. This “Experiences” part of its brand, is another pillar aside its traditional locally curated deals. In January of this year, 100 Scoop St. members experienced Shake Shack‘s epic burgers, fries and shakes for free. And this month, Scoop St. partnered with Roomorama for NYC’s fashion week and gave away entry to a private lounge to nearly 500 RSVPed guests.
“We will always have our traditional deals, our Scoops, but the new thing, called Perks is our third pillar,” says Co-Founder David Ambrose. “Perks are for existing and new members of the site to get unique experiences that money usually can’t buy.”
This week’s Perk is a free year of cab rides. To activate the deal, 25,000 people must sign up before the deal becomes active. While they haven’t hit this mark yet, it’s hard not imagine 25,000 New Yorkers not wanting to win $18,000 for a year of free cab rides. Two users will also win a second tier prize of one month of free cab rides, a $1,500 value. To sign up, click here.
So, how are are they planning to make money this way?
“It’s all about the member acquisition, says Ambrose. “An “ambassador” invites three friends or they provide a referral or they tweet it out, etc. It’s all about the viral element.”
The idea of Perks embraces scarcity, not mass quantity like most daily deal services. Future perks will include deep discounts at Michelin starred restaurants combined with a visit from the restaurant’s chef; meetups with other members to go paint-balling or weekend trips to Atlantic City and home-stays in the Hamptons.
Why focusing on New York works for Scoop St.
“New York isn’t just a city, it’s a country. It’s 15-20 sections: Not just Manhattan but also Southern CT, Brooklyn, Queens, etc. If you can segment those off, there’s limitless inventory and more than enough interest and demand from the merchant angle,” explains Ambrose.
Sure, you can take twist the daily deals model- like Jewpon and JDeal have done, but Scoop St. is doing more than just twisting and finding a niche; it is expanding and reinventing by taking the best of what publishers can offer, what sites like Jetsetter have done right and really listening to its clientele by staying focused on New York City.
Since its inception in January 2008, Scoop St. has managed to raise $1.5 million from an angel round and an additional round of private investing. Scoop St.’s innovation in providing rich experiences that leverage its existing merchant relationships will make it a hot contender for a next round of funding this spring.
Read next: Awesome Real-Life Infographics