SimpleDeal, a mobile app rolled out in January that allows consumers to find immediate dining deals and offers, is engaging in a 60-day, nationally targeted campaign to raise funds to expand the app’s reach, using the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The plan is for the app, launched in Long Beach, California, for use on iOS mobile devices, to be offered nationwide and developed for Android devices.
SimpleDeal’s fundraising efforts are following an unusual track. While smaller contributions are welcome, the management team is focusing its efforts on $10,000 buy-ins from community groups; restaurant, film, and civic associations; and major sports teams. The benefit to the contributing organization is that every restaurant in its hometown city will receive three months of free access to the SimpleDeal platform, which normally costs $39 monthly.
So if a New York City sports team signed on, for example, each of the Big Apple’s 4,300 restaurants will have use of the SimpleDeal platform for three months, for free.
“Our campaign is a well-structured way for these organizations to give back to the businesses—the restaurants—that directly impact their community,” says James McKinney, SimpleDeal app founder and CEO. “Restaurants employ 10 percent of the workforce—this is a way for these organizations to give back to the community that supports them. Our app promotes community and small business growth.”
The restaurants that benefit from the deal just go online and follow a three-step process to sign on. “We take care of everything on the back end,” McKinney says.
The SimpleDeal mobile app is powered by the device’s GPS and accelerometer to pinpoint potential diners’ exact locations. By pointing their smartphone at the restaurant and then tapping the device, users access the restaurant's current deals and offers.
If the restaurant isn’t part of the deal platform, the app displays deals and offers from participating restaurants located nearby.
SimpleDeal promotes its app as a way to “save the restaurant industry,” citing that daily deal platforms are destroying restaurant profits, creating a situation where restaurants are selling their food at a 75 percent discount—the consumer gets a 50 percent discount, and the deal platform takes another 30-50 percent.
Free to consumers, SimpleDeal's $39 monthly fee lets participating restaurants have complete control over the content, load in as many deals as they would like, and change the deals daily.
The SimpleDeal team aims to enhance the restaurant portal, allowing restaurants to plan out deals and offers for the week, instead of having to change content daily. “This will let restaurants control when they want specific deals to be visible, and when they want them turned off,” McKinney says. “Right now, all the content is either on or off.”
On the consumer side, says McKinney, guests will have opportunities for earning rewards, from the restaurants they frequent or from SimpleDeal, by answering a couple of questions about their restaurant experience.
Along with the $10,000 sponsorships, SimpleDeal is also rewarding less expensive contributions: $1 gets you a "thank-you;" $20, a Smiley t-shirt; $75, a package such as "Pass the Love," letting the contributor name her favorite restaurant to be listed on the platform free for three months; and $175, a "Snuggle with Smiley" plush.
“Everything we do is about driving people to the restaurant,” says McKinney.
By Joann Whitcher