All the tech world loves a demo, so we couldn’t leave yesterday’s Daily Deal Summit without catching the Tech Showcase. Four CEOs–slowly losing their audience to lunch–were each assigned eight minutes to sell us on new solutions. Billed as having the potential to ”dramatically improve” attendees’ businesses, how did they stack up?
First up and perhaps most relevant to the daily-deal-selling audience was ActivePath CEO Jeff Kupietzky, just in from Israel and ready to sell us on the merits of the company’s direct marketing solution, ActiveMail. He whipped out some scary statistics about how people get more than a hundred emails a day and spend two and half hours a day weeding through them. Meanwhile, marketers are still opting for a “spray and pray” approach, often at the risk of being tagged as spam. The current solution is to strip out all the rich media, opting for a “lowest common denominator” approach. The problem, of course, is that dampens engagement. ActiveMail’s solution: Add back the interactivity, including things like video, roll-over menus, and purchase ability in the email itself.
Next up was Closely CEO Perry Evans. He introduced the audience to Perch, Closely’s new small-business app. The elevator pitch: “It’s a merchant’s birdseye view of their business environment.” In short, local businesses are spending way too much time combing social check-in and daily deal sites, attempting to figure out a) what their competitors are doing and b) what’s going on around them, event-wise. Perch pulls in data from sources like Foursquare and Yipit to aggregate the answer. The app is currently in private beta, but right now they’re only taking businesses. Harel said it should open up in a couple of months.
Centzy in particular piqued our interest (though it seemed the least directly relevant to the conference). Backed by Lightbank and ffVC, the company was described by CEO Jay Shek as “a comparison shopping engine for local services.” So why bother? Apparently fewer than 25 percent of local businesses post their prices online. “Imagine if you went to Google and 75 percent of websites weren’t listed,” Shek said. “It would be like the stone ages.” Right now, if you want the cheapest oil change within three blocks, you have to pick up the phone and start calling.
Their solution: Use paid crowdsourcing, like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, to get that information. Shek claimed this approach is 97 percent accurate and 100 percent comprehensive, and he’s confident the approach can scale nationwide for a reasonable amount of money. We’ll see.
Last and perhaps most cruelly given the competition with lunch: BiteHunter, which aggregates local dining deals. CEO Gil Harel took the audience through a tour of newly released version 2.0, currently burning up the app store charts and boasting 60,000 downloads. He explained they’d learned two things with their previous iteration: People are still overwhelmed by their choices, and it’s a pain to leave the app to purchase a deal. To crack that first nut, they’ve made it possible to browse via photo grid, map view, or list. For the second, they’ve added in-app purchases.