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Innovation + Job News

ByME brings online coupon model to college students

Wildly popular with consumers, sites like LivingSocial and Groupon aren't always relevant for young adults, believes entrepreneur Chad Olsen.
"There are so many crazy good deals, but it felt like there wasn't much for college students," he says. To change the situation, he created ByME, an app that focuses on that demographic, and also puts a different spin on the online coupon model.
Unlike Groupon, those using ByME don't need to buy ahead for their deals. They can just bring a smartphone into a participating retailer or service provider and present the e-coupon on the spot. That's an advantage, because it doesn't create a deluge of orders for a small business, and it doesn't lock users into a certain deal before they start shopping.
Olsen got the idea for the company while running a web development agency. One of his clients called, in tears, because a Groupon deal had overloaded the company, and eventually drove it into bankruptcy.
"When I heard that, I thought there must be a way to start with good deals for students, and drive traffic for these businesses, without overwhelming them," he says.
The app does create a bit of a frenzy, however. A recent deal at Noodles & Co. was so popular that the restaurant ran out of food. Olsen jokes that the company's new tagline is "We made Noodles run out of noodles."
As the company approaches its one-year mark, Olsen and his business partner Alec Bronston are already working on the next version, incorporating tweaks that will make ByME even more useful. He says, "We're able to learn from our mistakes to become more agile and lean."
Source: Chad Olsen, ByME
Writer: Elizabeth Millard
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