Cincinnati Startup: CoupSmart Turns Fans Into Revenue: INTERVIEW

Loyalty, rewards, couponing, it’s definitely a crowded space. Cincinnati startup CoupSmart says that it’s only crowded from indirect competitors. While many startups in the loyalty, rewards and couponing space offer help with engagement on social networks, CoupSmart says they deliver fans into revenue on and offline time and time again.

The startup, led by founder and CEO Blake Shipley says they’re all about the ROI. They don’t waste time building un-measurable campaigns or throwing coupons and offers around like water. Shipley knows how ineffective an actual coupon can be when looking for actual customer data.

In our interview below Shipley talks about how coupons are sorted by hand time and time again before they’re even shipped off for redemption. He experienced this first hand when he worked as an internal auditor at The Kroger Company’s Cincinnati headquarters. That’s what sparked his idea to create a better coupon platform.

We don’t need to tell you how crowded the space is and that everyone in the loyalty, reward and coupon space thinks they have the next biggest thing, but focusing on actual ROI will definitely perk the ears of hopeful clients.

One of the biggest complaints about loss leader Groupon is their ability to convert one time users into repeat users and effectively increase the businesses ROI. Many companies that have gone with the Groupon and Living Social model have lost their asses in margin just to get new customers in the door one time.

Whether it’s rewards programs, coupon programs or loyalty programs, someone is going to eventually break through the space with a platform or product that actual saves customers a decent amount of money, gets customers returning for more visits, and gets business owners the information they need.

Is CoupSmart that startup? Check out our interview below.

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Denver Startup: Plink Teams Up With Tango Card

Plink,Tangocard,Colorado startup,denver startup,startup,Seattle startup,rewards,loyalty,Facebook rewards,nibletz,pandodailySeattle startup TangoCard continues to make news. Just last week we reported that Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, had participated in a $1.8M round of funding for TangoCard through his Innovation Endeavors investment arm.

Today loyalty and rewards startup Plink has announced a partnership with TangoCard that will take their 35,000 merchant rewards network from Facebook credits, to a plethora of great opportunities for redemption. Now in addition to earning Facebook credits that can be used for hundreds of Facebook apps and games, customers in the Plink reward network can also earn credit towards top merchants like Amazon,Home Depot, Target,iTunes,The Gap, Nike and many more.

“Our members have asked for more choices and we’re excited to expand the innovative ways they can earn rewards for eating and shopping offline,” Peter Vogel, Plink’s co-founder and President said in a statement. “Plink’s goal is to bridge the gap between online consumers and their offline purchases and partnering with Tango Card makes that vision more rewarding for our current members and attractive to new ones. We still believe in Facebook and Facebook credits; we wanted to increase our reach and exposure.”

Tango will also handle all of the work involved in the gift card part of the program.

“Plink and Tango Card are rethinking how consumers want to earn and use rewards,” David Leeds, CEO and founder of Tango Card said in a prepared statement. “Tango Card carefully curates digital rewards to deliver a complete program in a card. This approach allows Plink to focus on their core business: creating an innovative online-to-offline loyalty program. We are huge fans of what Plink is doing and are delighted that Plink selected our easy SDK [software development kit] to integrate the Tango Card.”

“We were looking for new ways to advertise all over the Internet and through Facebook, not just to people that are playing games on Facebook,” Vogel added. “We had seen Tango out in the marketplace. They have a lot of the biggest and most popular brands that our members want. Tango Card provides our members with a one-stop stop shop with an easy entry point. Tango also has a mobile application that enables our members to pick the [electronic] card they want on the go. It’s a very appealing model. For us, it’s all about choice.”

Just last week Tango received a $1.8 million dollar series A round. They said at that time they would use the fund for expansion, hiring more developers and expanding their proprietary software applications. Obviously they are moving quickly toward that goal.


For more information on Plink visit this link

For more information on TangoCard visit this link

Source: Press Release via Loyalty360

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Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors Backs Seattle Startup Tango Card

Seattle startup Tango Card is looking to continue to bring innovation to the gift card and rewards space. They are focused on enterprise customers and incorporate digital goods into gift cards and loyalty programs. Tango Card already powers solutions for Bing Rewarsd, FedEx, Extole and Shutterfly.

Those are just some of the factors by two big announcements the company had last week. First of which was that Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors has participated in a $1.8 million dollar Series A round, alongside Western Technology Investment.  Tango Card plans to use those funds to hire more software developers and expand their proprietary software applications.

Tango Card also announced that Westpac GM Technology and Boeing Joint Strike Fighter IT director Randy Fennel is joining the company in an expanded CTO role.

“As a company we’re focused on launching innovative and proprietary software applications in huge and unexplored verticals, execution, and strong brand and partner curation. With Innovation Endeavors and WTI as our first institutional investors we have access to incredible industry thought leaders, mentors and innovators from the Innovation Community. Both investors also bring very deep pockets and long-term focus to Tango Card,” said David Leeds, CEO and Founder of Tango Card. “Additionally, our ability to attract someone with the pedigree, capabilities, and respect that Randy Fennel brings to the company underscores the exciting things we have already done and the mission we are on. Ultimately, this additional capital and the hire of Randy positions us to scale rapidly – a good thing since we have grown 30X already year-over-year,” Leeds concludes.

 “We were attracted to Tango Card’s vision of bringing gift cards and digital goods to huge and unexplored areas, and doing this primarily through efficient and scalable software and proprietary applications,” said Dror Berman, Founding Managing Partner at Innovation Endeavors. “We believe we can add significant value as partners and advisors and look forward to working with this exceptionally talented team.” Maurice Werdegar, CEO of WTI stated, “We love David’s track record of success and clear results-based leadership. I’ve known him since his FiberTower days, just before he and his co-founders took that company public, and we see similar opportunities here.”

Tango Card works like no other gift card program out there. A purchaser can buy a Tango Card  and give it to the recipient via email. The recipient can then exchange the value of the card for a variety of retailers cards like Amazon, iTunes, Target etc. Or they can elect to donate all or a portion of the cards value to charity.
Not only that but Tango Card makes their card program more social. They call it the “What I got” card, and they allow the recipient to take a picture of what they got with the card and post it for the giver to see via a mobile app available for both Android and iOS.
Tango Card allows more variety for the recipient and a better chance they’ll get what they actually want, no matter what the retailer.
Find out more about Tango Card here
Check out the Tango Card app for Android here
Check out the Tango Card app for iPhone here 
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Interview: Chicago Startup Toodalu Has It All Figured Out, Reward With Cash, Donate To Charity

Great things happen in Chicago, despite what anybody else says. Toodalu is one of those great things. Founded by three friends that met in (dare I say) Chicago’s thriving tech scene, Todd O’Hara, Ravi Singh and Chris Lubinski, they set out to provide another mobile startup that caters to the reward/engagement/loyalty space but they’ve hit something on the head with greatness, and that is CASH IS KING.

With the new Toodalu app when you shop at a participating merchant you get 5% cash back on your credit card and another 5% donated to charity. Which charity? Whichever one you want. We know that Target lets you donate to a ton of charities but with Toodalu you don’t need to have your charity on a list, it just needs to be a real charity.

“The user can choose ANY non-profit to give to! That’s the key element that excites our users and merchants. In addition, a user can select up to one hundred different charitable organizations to support and select how, exactly, they wish to distribute the giving by allocating percentages.” O’Hara told us in an interview.

Not only is Toodalu of epic greatness because they’ve already figured out the reward and the charity but it’s simple. We got a chance to catch up with O’Hara, who by the way Trevor was up at 10pm answering questions for us, way past the 5pm Pando curfew. The first thing we wanted to know is how did you stumble upon such a great idea:

Toodalu is a new breed of loyalty rewards. Just link any credit or debit card to your Toodalu account and when you use that card any partner location, 5% of every purchase is donated to the charity of your choice. We are proud to help charities raise boat loads of money while attaching purpose to the purchases of our users. The idea was born from the question,”how can we increase participation rates for charitable giving?”

More after the break
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Des Moines Startup: Freebee Cards About To Launch, Making Customer Loyalty And Engagement Fun

A new Des Moines based startup called FreebeeCards is preparing for launch. They are launching May 15th in Des Moines and they are currently signing up merchants and users, for what promises to be a fun and exciting new way to build customer loyalty and engagement.

Freebee Cards was founded by CEO Ken Lazzaro who is a consultant in the reward/loyalty card and credit card processing space so he has experience with this kind of thing. How did he come up with Freebee Cards? Their marketing guy Todd Razor told us in an interview:

“Ken’s consulting company, which educates and helps business owners implement gift card, loyalty and credit card processing programs, was working with the owner of a women’s clothing boutique in Austin, Texas.  Ken had just sold the business owner a point-of-sale system, and she was also very interested in increasing customer loyalty. Ken’s company approached her about offering preloaded gift cards with varying values of $5, $10, $25 and $50 to customers in her area.

She loved the idea of consumers having to visit her store to find out the value of the cards. Yet a concern over not being able to measure the customer acquisition cost stopped her short of running that program. 

Ken soon realized that developing an electronic version of this gift card marketing concept would allow merchants to track customer shopping habits, as well as open a direct line of communication to make special offers, reward customer loyalty and collect candid feedback outside of the public’s view.

It snowballed into an idea for a website and FreebeeCards was born.”

More after the break