Freespeech was serving half a million texts a day. But in a crowded market of group texting apps, some of which have received millions of dollars in funding and hired fancy PR teams, the three-engineer start-up wasn’t getting enough traction. About three weeks ago, former financial services coder-turned start-up entrepreneur Jason Fertel decided to throw in the towel. “It was hard to be seen amongst the 20 other applications that did the same thing,” he said. “On top of that, with Apple and Google and whoever else about to jump in that ring, it just didn’t make sense to continue with it.”
Bummer, Mr. Fertel and his team were shooting around some ideas at the keg at WeWork Labs in Soho when WeWork manager Matt Shampine started complaining about he kept checking in to a certain establishment where Fourquare was offering a free margarita, unaware that Scoutmob was offering a more hefty discount of half-off everything.
“It would be awesome if when I check in I get a text with those Scoutmob deals,” Mr. Fertel thought. He started building it right away, and a few days later dealburner.com took its first steps on the world wide web, serving up deals instantly to users who check in on Foursquare and Facebook Places.
The service launched formally five days ago, and Mr. Fertel is pumped. Betabeat caught him on the phone this afternoon and he’s planning to meet later today with Foursquare, which could benefit from the added incentive to check in as well as the furthering of the concept of instant deals as a marketing mechanism. Foursquare just announced it will be serving deals directly from flash services like LivingSocial and Gilt Groupe, within Foursquare–which makes Dealburner seem like a stop-gap solution or potential competitor, depending on how you look at it.
Unfortunately, Mr. Fertel wasn’t able to bring along his Freespeech colleagues to the new start-up–yet. But he can imagine adding a lot of functionality to the simple concept of instant deals. In the big city, there’s enough inventory to build out a simple real-time map of instant deals, for example. “I’ll probably bring them on eventually,” he said of his former co-founders. In the meantime, he’s going to keep building out the product and scouting a bit for investors on the side. “I like to build,” he said. “I like to make products. And I want to continue building this.” He sounded pleased.