Groupon launches on kiosks to provide on-the-spot deals
BY SANDRA GUY Business Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org January 25, 2012 12:32AM
Updated: February 9, 2012 10:50AM
Deal seekers will have a new way to find Groupon coupons on Wednesday, when Groupons start appearing on 30 kiosks with touchscreen displays that people use to share photos and find transportation, restaurants and nearby events throughout Chicago.
The Groupon deals will be targeted to each kiosk’s location, so that a daily deal at a Navy Pier kiosk could include a discount for the IMAX Theatre, while those at the Soldier Field kiosk could offer a deal for a youth sporting event.
The kiosks, with 32- and 46-inch touchscreens, will offer Groupon’s daily deals, Groupon Now!, limited-time offers and Groupon Getaways travel deals. Users may pay for the Groupons with a credit card or can email or Facebook them to themselves to consider later.
The expanded Groupon access — the number of the so-called SmartKiosks will grow to 100 by March — stems from Groupon’s partnership with SmartDigital, a two-year-old, nine-employee South Loop business that aims to offer free, accessible interactive technology.
No financial terms were disclosed.
Groupon spokeswoman Julie Mossler said, “We think the kiosk partnership offers a fun way to get great, relevant Groupon deals while you’re out exploring Chicago.”
George Burciaga, the 36-year-old CEO and founder of SmartDigital who was raised by his grandparents in the Pilsen neighborhood, sees the kiosks and their expanding capabilities as a way to help bridge the digital divide that separates technology haves and have-nots.
The kiosks’ most popular app lets people take photos of themselves and email or share the photos on social-media sites. People also access apps for non-emergency 311, city bus, train and bike availability, and will soon be able to access a 911 app tied to the nearest security camera.
“I was born in one of the city’s poorer communities and raised by my grandmother who was blind from diabetes for half of my life,” Burciaga said. “My grandfather worked as a dye cutter at a factory in the South Loop. I had to start working to help put food on the table. I leverage what I didn’t have growing up to help even the playing field and build technology to help everyone.”
Burciaga left college in 1998 to start his first business developing software. In 2003, he started a second company, SmarTechs.net, to do network infrastructure and application development, and followed with SmartDigital in 2010.
Experts say the kind of mobile and location-based deals provided by the Groupon-SmartDigital partnership are particularly relevant now that shoppers use deal-finding mobile apps to save money and gain rewards from walking into stores based on mobile alerts.
SmartDigital intends to expand to Miami and New York, and plans to hire eight people in the next 60 days in sales, project management, app development and social media strategy.