January 27, 2011
Carrying the Internet in your pocket was bound to change the way entertainment decisions are made. Large food companies and chain restaurants have recognized this – and have the resources to create their own customized mobile strategy to keep up with the market. Independent restaurants and bars don’t always have the means to do this– Venga picks up the slack.
DC start-up Venga (which in Italian and Spanish translates to, “Come on” or “let’s go”) takes the location-based marketing model niche, and has set its sights on connecting users with deals from the dining and nightlife industries. This soon-to-be launched marketing platform enables restaurants and bars to distribute promotional messages directly to consumers in real-time to their smartphones – at that crucial moment they are deciding where to spend their entertainment dollars.
Consumers are not likely to download an application focused on a single restaurant, and the experienced team at Venga knows this. Taking a broader approach, Venga delivers location-specific information about nightly specials. For users, it is a comprehensive source of information and deals from establishments within their community.
“We give consumers only the scoop and offers they want, only when they want them. Serving both constituent groups [diners and restaurateurs] creates a highly lucrative and sustainable business model in a billion dollar market.”
Now, we all know there are a lot of restaurant-oriented apps out there. Venga makes it clear how they are different. Here’s the breakdown:
- Groupon and similar services offer a single deal each day and users can take it or leave it. Groupon also requires massive discounts which many restaurants are reluctant to offer.
- MatchPin like Venga, earns revenue from businesses and allow consumers some level of customization. However, MatchPin’s customization is very simple – you can either choose to receive offers from a business or not. The application (which is currently only available for iPhone) does not allow you to filter by the type of offer. And, unlike Venga, MatchPin is not focused on the restaurant and bar industry.
- Companies like Urban Spoon, Yelp and Zagat are focused on publishing restaurant ratings and reviews. As a result, they are focused on serving consumers by helping them find information on restaurants generated by other users. For restaurants, they do very little in the way of helping promote their business and distribute their marketing messages. Reviewers are often more inclined to post a review if they had a negative experience than a positive experience, so the reviews don’t always accurately capture the overall opinion of a restaurant. For this reason, and because they allow anonymous, amateur reviewers to rate their restaurant without allowing the restaurant to respond, many restaurateurs do not have a favorable impression of these services.
Venga was founded in 2010 by three partners who collectively have launched four successful businesses and have a history of working together:
Sam von Pollaro, the founder of Petals for the People, a business that revolutionized the sale and distribution of fresh cut flowers and was sold to a company backed by Battery Ventures less than 15 months after launch. Formerly a Principal at Portfolio Logic Management, a private equity firm founded by Jeff Zients, currently President Obama’s Chief Performance Officer;
Winston Lord, founder of Lord & Associates, a media consultancy in Washington, D.C. and who served as the Executive Director of the Washington Baseball Club, a coalition that helped return Major League Baseball to Washington, D.C.;
Reg Stettinius, former Director of Information Resources for the American Society of Landscape Architects where she pioneered the organization’s digital presence in the early days of the Internet. She has led her own private technology consulting practice and is the founder of Travers Houston, LLC, a garden design and consulting firm.
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