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June 7, 2011

Groupon in Baltimore: hot and cold experiences?

My Baltimore Sun colleague -- and cubicle neighbor -- Jay Hancock has an interesting column that takes a look at Groupon from the local perspective. What are some restaurants' experiences with the social deal website?

He talked to a bunch of restaurants and got their experiences with it, good and bad. It's an interesting topic that's come to the fore again, as Groupon last week filed to go public in an IPO in the future. The company is pulling in tons of revenue, but is not profitable. (Some in the tech world are even calling the company "Grouponzi." Ouch.)

I'm wondering what the perspective on Groupon is from consumers in Baltimore? Do you find yourself buying -- and actually using -- Groupons? Are you happy with the service you receive at places where you redeem a Groupon?

Shoot me a tweet via Twitter at @gussent.

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This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:14 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Social Media, Startups


Jay Hancock wrote an article about Restaurants and Groupon in the paper this am and online. In it, he categorizes Chewpons as a "Copycat" site to Groupon like Living Social, Google Offers, etc... I take offense to that because we are far from a copycat site.

* None of those other sites mentioned have contributed a dime out of their pockets to local charities. We have donated over $10,000 to Baltimore related charities and causes in just over 5 months.
* None of those sites are tied into the local Baltimore community. We have many partnerships in place with local businesses, schools, and corporations to help raise money for causes they believe in and have been recommended by some of the top restaurant supply companies in the region.
* We are specifically targeted to Food & Drink so our response rate is typically higher from consumers and restaurants are generally pleased. In fact, we have had many come back for 2nd runs and some preparing for their 3rd runs with us.
* We send a survey out to every customer that visits our merchants and the results show almost 50% are visiting for the first time, about 60% are going just because they received a voucher, about 80% are spending more than the amount of the voucher and 77% would go back with or without a coupon of any sort. Does this sound bad for the restaurants?
* Lastly, though the typical revenue split with restaurants is 50/50 or 60/40, we offer them several other options as well, in order to protect their businesses. These include: adding a minimum spend to the deal offering they put out, allowing them to focus their ad during off-hours to fill seats when typically they are unoccupied, encouraging them to limit the amount of Chewpons offered for sale (to avoid a Prime Rib type situation), and complete flexibility on the creation and placement of their ads.

I think Jay's article was good and brought to light a lot of the issues in the Daily Deal model as it relates to restaurants, but I also think to automatically group Chewpons with the others without first checking his facts, is a disservice to my company, the charities we have given to, and the consumers and merchants who patronize us as well.

Nice try, Adam. Chewpons is clearly a ripoff of the business model. There's nothing to check -- it's the same type of deal, just limited to restaurants.

There's nothing wrong with being a copycat site, there are tons of them. But to try to distance yourself with the minutea is dishonest.

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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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