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People seem to be crazy for coupons these days, and a number of new companies are launching seemingly daily to try to keep up with the demand. But coupons and couponing still have a negative connotation associated with being a cheapskate, not to mention that paper coupons and Sunday circulars are about as eco-friendly as BP.
But, one local coupon company has caught our eye for being both glam and green: enter Peekaboo Mobile, a Boston-based service offering exclusive, paperless local coupons through their (also free) iPhone app. (They'll be available on the Droid and Blackberry this fall.)
Sure, you might be asking yourself, "Between Groupon and private sale sites, do we really need another coupon company?" The answer, in our humble opinions, is yes, because no one else in the coupon marketplace has yet to address the traditional couponing experience and make it cool quite like Peekaboo. We like the immediate, elegant, hyperlocal and eco-friendly nature of Peekaboo, so we set out to interview its founders, recent Suffolk University grads Ben Dolgoff and Mike Fruzetti, to find out just how these guys got started and how they're seeking to change coupons forever.
These Numbers Don't Lie
Need proof that paper coupons are about as cool as your Great Aunt Connie? According to Dolgoff, 364 billion paper coupons were printed and then went unused in 2009. Get that? Billion. When there's a need in the market as big as this one, the trending cloud of new companies launching to address that need is as obvious as an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico: a quick search for "coupon" on the iTunes app store produced more than 50 relevant apps, including those from popular coupon sites Coupon Sherpa and Coupon Queen. Much as we love those guys, they definitely aren't aiming for the 25- to 35- year-old guy or girl living downtown in any US city that we know of, looking for coupons to local independent businesses and nightlife, which is where Peekaboo rallies to answer the call.
How it Works
Once you download the free Peekaboo application to your phone, it asks you to be allowed to use your location, using the iPhone's geo-location software. Peekaboo then presents you with all the most relevant deals currently available in your area — sortable by deals within a 1 mile, 5 mile, or 10 mile radius. Unlike the (mostly grocery and big retail) coupons on other coupon apps and websites, 90% of Peekaboo's deals are exclusive to their customers, so you won't be able to get them anywhere else.
The Peekaboo team is on a mission to work with independent, local businesses and help them grow, too; so you're more likely to find a BOGO coupon for The Sherman Cafe than one for Starbucks, and buying local has been proven to be better for economies overall. The Peekaboo app lets you search for deals while waiting in line or getting seated to dine, so you can just access deals digitally from your smart phone and then show the coupon at the cashier to instantly receive the rebate. No printing is necessary and no paper ever changes hands, which is totally green, and the coupons are so easy to find that they're always quick and discreet to use, which is much more glam than using tradition coupons, where you're holding up the line to present those awkward slips one by one to an agitated salesperson.
Businesses that partner with Peekaboo have access to their own mobile platform, so they can create new deals any time they want. For example, if your favorite pizza shop has an abundance of pies leftover after the lunch rush, it could create a deal for $1 slices from 2 to 4 p.m. that day and make them instantly available to all of Peekaboo's users. (Who doesn't want cheap pizza, really?)
Sharing the Saving Love
For now, exclusive Peekaboo deals are only available in the Massachusetts and Rhode Island area, but Dolgoff and Fruzzetti are growing the company's business relationships on a daily basis. Outside of New England, the Community section of Peekaboo’s app allows users to post any good deal he or she has found. So, if you're out for some drinks after work and see a great happy hour deal, post it to the community page. How much more rewarding would that $4 mojito be if you knew that you shared the deal with lots of other smart phone users in need of a cheap after work drink spot?
We thought so.
Story: Copyright 2010, Shoestring LLC. Photo: Courtesy of Byte Ventures.