November 20, 2015
We haven’t heard much from DC startup darling LivingSocial since they announced their new CEO, Gautam Thakar, over a year ago. One can guess that they’ve spent much of the last year with their heads down trying to figure out how to revamp the brand that once was the king of the hyperlocal deals space.
It turns out that the company had some good ideas in the works and has recently launched one of them in the DC market.
The new platform, Restaurants Plus, is a simple concept. Rather than the old school voucher system, app users will earn cash back when dining at partnering restaurants. They will also earn reward points to use for additional restaurant discounts throughout the city. And thanks to mobile pay options, diners use their smart phones to pay for their meals.
Despite being headquartered in DC, LivingSocial first test drove the Restaurants Plus concept in Atlanta Georgia. This was a strategic move to test in a city that did not have such a strong tie to the brand. They felt that a pilot launch in DC might be a little biased in favor of the platform.
Upon the DC launch, they will have 140 restaurants on board including Döner Bistro, Ella’s Pizza, Gordon Biersch, Juniper at the Fairmont, The Perfect Pita, Merzi, Sette Osteria and Toro Toro. They are also making moves in neighboring Maryland and Virginia in order to better serve the entire metro area.
It seems like LivingSocial might be back on the right track with Restaurants Plus. According to Thakar, a big part of reviving the brand was about determining the company’s identity.
“I started calling it, a few months ago, an experiences marketplace with the mindset that if eBay is a goods marketplace and Angie’s List is a services marketplace then can LivingSocial be that place for experiences—where we can help you decided what to do this evening or that weekend,” described Thakar to DCInno a couple of months ago. “And that means our categories need to be different, they need to evolve and become more specific.”
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