January 31, 2012
“I hate that. Our business is so different. We do events, not daily deals,” says Matthews.
Matthews’ aversion to the comparison is fair – there are differences. Although it’s hard to deny the similarities.
At 1pm, you’re looking for a good deal on today’s lunch. A quick search through Groupon reveals that the sushi restaurant down the street will give you $8 off your $15 order.
At 5pm, you’re looking to badmouth your boss with a fellow co-worker over a couple of drinks. A quick search through Poggled reveals that the local Irish bar will give you a $30 bar tab for the price of $15.
On the surface, Poggled seems to be scratching the same itch – just in a different area.
Even Poggled’s beginnings were rooted in the opportunity that Groupon was exposing. “At that point  Groupon was clearly a success. This was apparent from the get go. They had unbelievable metrics and were growing like crazy. However, they were having a difficult time working with bars and nightclubs. There are a lot of social factors that play into that. We saw an opportunity Groupon couldn’t really go after, and took off with it.”
How about funding? Yeah, the Groupon ties are there too. When Matthews was at the Kellogg School of Management, he took a class taught by the daily deals giant co-founder Eric Lefkofsky. Matthews says, “Eric was impressed by our ability to sell $100,000 of marketing rights on a Facebook app that Sean Strother (now fellow Poggled co-founder) and I had developed. We took a seed investment from him. By March 2010, we were brought into the Lightbank family.” Lightbank, of course, is the Chicago seed funding group started by the founders of – you guessed it – Groupon.
So where, then, do their paths diverge?
For starters, Poggled’s focus is events, not products and services. In other words, when users think Poggled, Matthews wants his brand to be synonymous with party. And exactly how does the Chicago-based startup plan on accomplishing this?
Building relationships and partnerships with those who can fund the parties – the alcohol manufacturers.
Matthews says, “We have begun working with the alcohol brands directly. Anheuser Busch is launching its latest beer, Bud light Platinum, during a commercial in this year’s Super Bowl. We’re going to do a series of marketing events with them following this launch. We’re here to help grow their new brand in Chicago. They subsidize our parties, and we collect data on the consumers – age, buying patterns, and survey how much they like product. Both sides get value. It’s the ideal partnership. Ultimately the biggest winner, however, are the Poggled users because we can throw them unbelievable parties.”
And what exactly can Poggled users expect from these unbelievable parties? “Big DJs, bands, theme parties, and free or cheap alcohol. We’re focusing on awesome experiences, not just discounts alone,” boasts Matthews. In addition to their recent agreement with Anheuser Busch, Poggled is currently working on a deal with Diageo, the company that owns 40% of the alcohol market with big name brands such as Smirnoff, Baileys, Guinness, and Crown Royal, amongst many others.
The daily events service is currently available in Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, and New York City. According to Matthews, Poggled is targeting these markets first as they represent a good cross segment of the country. Before expanding nationally, Poggled is looking to dominate the markets they currently inhabit first. Apparently, this is no easy task, “It’s a delicate process dealing with each city, as they have their own own subset of demographics. There are hipsters, clubbers, those who just turned twenty-one….Each scene represents a different experience. Every experience requires unique personalization.”
Ultimately, however, Poggled’s success comes back to the quality of relationships with the alcohol brands. “With their help, we should have no trouble entering into any market.”
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