Updated: March 21, 2011 2:24AM
As Chicago is arguably the epicenter of both daily deal websites and business-to-business marketing, it is only natural for a Groupon-like site targeted specifically to small business owners to surface.
“A lot of the deals that Groupon offers to consumers have a business-to-business equivalent,” said veteran marketing executive Gary Slack, who will debut www.bizydeal.com on March 28. “Just as there are people who buy into deals for a meal at a restaurant, there are business owners looking to rent a room to entertain staff and clients.”
While Groupon imitators are a dime a drove these days, few if any in the business marketing space have the pedigree of Slack and co-founder Lou Friedmann. More than two decades ago, Slack started a marketing agency that has since represented the likes of eBay Business (which it helped launch), LinkedIn and ACNielsen. He also serves as the national chairman of the 2,500-member Business Marketing Association. Friedmann is the former executive vice president of marketing for online brokerage optionsXpress.
Slack and Friedmann are bootstrapping BizyDeal, which will have three additional employees at launch. Initial deals will be directed to Chicago small business owners with plans to roll out into other markets thereafter. Slack is planning to showcase “provocative” deals to drive attention to BizyDeal over its first two weeks (he is talking with Ford Motor Co. about a discounted campaign for its Transit Connect light van), and then will eventually settle into more traditional offerings like online payroll and janitorial services.
Ultimately, in addition to geographic expansion, the plan is to offer multiple targeted deals per market each day.
“Over time we expect the deals and offers to get very vertical,” Slack said. “We want to be a one-stop shopping platform for any business.”
Small biz software firm Future Simple raises $1.1 million
BizyDeal is not the only local technology startup that sees a target-rich environment in the nation’s more than 20 million small businesses. Chicago-based Future Simple, which develops sales and customer relationship management software for small companies, recently raised $1.1 million in its first round of venture capital financing. The company’s financial backers, both local, include OCA Ventures and the I2A Fund (the investment entity that spawned out of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center).
Phoning in prescription refills
Only months after launching a Refill By Scan feature in its iPhone and Android applications, Deerfield-based Walgreens is processing more than half of its mobile orders via barcode scans on prescription labels. Smartphone cameras, text-messaging and consumer-friendly applications are just what the doctor ordered for Walgreen’s, which has more than 1 million prescription-alert subscribers.
Walgreen’s mobile apps also enable consumers to order photo prints, find store locations and shop from merchandise on their smartphones.