A company formed in Davenport all because a guy was upset he didn’t get his free appetizer.
It started as a tourist in Philadelphia two years ago when Michael Lawrence wanted to know of deals or coupons as he would drive or walk by stores and restaurants throughout the city. Then after a meal and before Star Wars, Lawrence checked his email to see he had a coupon for a free appetizer at the restaurant he was just eating at.
And he paid for an appetizer.
“So what if there was a way to be that tour guide, as you move around you get offers pushed to you?” Lawrence remembers. “So I was thinking about something more engaging and pushed out to people who are nearby.”
After getting married in May of 2017, Lawrence—with eight years of marketing and IT experience—quit his job and spent the next six months developing BluJaket, which he launched in January.
BluJaket is a mobile app that sends devices who have the app downloaded deals and coupons in real time. Lawrence said over 30 companies—from grocery stores, restaurants, retail and gas stations—have signed up throughout the Quad Cities and he’s looking to expand to Des Moines this summer.
BluJacket charges businesses $25 a month for the platform and it is free to download. Businesses that signup with BluJaket share the same userbase but create their own deals.
Call it Hyperlocal marketing or Geo-targeting
Lawrence explained that when setting up the BluJaket, businesses choose to set their desired, “Hive” location. Any device that has the app downloaded, will receive a notification with an offer from that business.
When that happens, it’s called getting, “Stung.” Devices within a half-mile of the Hive get stung.
“We’ve got puns for days,” Lawrence says. “So like, one of our clients runs a shoe store so he drops his geo-targeted offers over a race at the start and finish line. Everybody down there is a runner and he’s selling running shoes.”
Once a device is stung, the offer expires after a set amount of time.
“What we identified is you get them at the wrong place, at the wrong time and there’s no sense of urgency,” Lawrence says.
What makes BluJaket different from a similar Quad Cities-based company TapOnIt, is that companies are provided a platform to send deals, where TapOnIt automates it. Lawrence says he works with businesses to provide best practices for marketing the app to customers.
“We have tips and tricks, we always promote how to make it your own,” Lawrence says.
He said simply putting something on the bottom of the receipt and having servers tell customers will make the app pay for itself.
“We’ve tried to eliminate the barrier of entry by lowering the cost to less than $100 a month for businesses to participate,” Lawrence said. “A lot of marketing out there today is a high ticket item that only lets the big players play.”
An expansion to Des Moines is a clear goal for Lawrence, who has made two trips to Des Moines from Davenport so far this year and will be attending the Young Entrepreneurs Convention this weekend in downtown Des Moines.
He’s planning on pitching BluJaket during the $50,000 pitch competition but also is seeking angel investment—potentially from the Riverbend Angels, a Quad Cities-based Angel Investor network.
“1 Million Cups in Des Moines has been great and Ben McDougal made some introductions right away,” Lawrence said. “I reached out to him before I came and he already connected me with three people.”