Philadelphia Business Journal
Peter Key, Thursday, June 14, 2012
A Philadelphia company whose app enables users to scan images of printed coupons into their iPhones and display them for redemption at check-out counters has gotten financial backing from some prominent local e-commerce and digital-marketing executives.
- Michael Rubin, who founded GSI Commerce, the King of Prussia e-commerce and digital-marketing firm bought by San Jose, Calif.-based eBay Inc. last year, and now runs Kynetic LLC, the Conshohocken-based company that has majority stakes in two Internet retailers and a company that runs an online shopping program for bricks-and-mortar retailers.
- Jules Gardner, who founded PointRoll, a King of Prussia-based digital marketing firm now owned by Gannett Co. Inc., the McLean, Va.-based media company for which Mann used to work.
- Chris Saridakis, who once worked at PointRoll and now is the CEO of GSI Commerce.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the state-funded economic-development agency based in The Navy Yard, also committed to taking part in the round.
Mann got the idea for SnipSnap App after he became a father and found himself doing more shopping. He kept forgetting to bring coupons to stores, so he began taking pictures of them with his iPhone and displaying the pictures at the checkout counter so the barcodes on the coupons could be scanned.
“Every time I did it,” Mann said, “people would come up to me in line and ask me what app I was using.”
As a result, Mann said, “I started to think, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an app just for that purpose?’” and left his job as director of digital operations for Gannett’s six New Jersey papers to develop one.
SnipSnap App was accepted into the accelerator program that Philadelphia-based DreamIt Ventures held in the city last fall. After completing that, it was selected to be among the first set of companies to reside for six months in the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, which is located in the headquarters of Philadelphia Media Network, publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, and run by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
SnipSnap App launched the first widely available version of its app at SwitchPhilly, a demonstration event held April 25 in the middle of Philly Tech Week. SnipSnap App was named best presenter at the event, which it got into by being named the best presenter at Mobile Monday MidAtlantic’s Demo Night two days before.
SnipSnap App allows users to scan, store, sort and display coupons, as well as download coupons other users have scanned. It also reminds users when coupons are about to expire and, when they’re in a store, tells them what coupons they have for the store.
The app can be used only for coupons issued by retailers, not for coupons issued by manufacturers, because it doesn’t support the process by which manufacturers reimburse retailers for their coupons.
Mann said SnipSnap App is in talks with numerous manufacturers to change that, and expects to roll out a version of the app that can handle manufacturers’ coupons this summer.
So far, SnipSnap App only has an arrangement with one retailer — New York-based Aéropostale Inc. — although Mann said it’s in talks with a number of them. That means users of its app may get to a cash register and find that the store they’re in won’t honor the coupons they have on the app. To let users know the chance of that occurring, the app displays the rate at which a store has allowed users to redeem coupons stored on it.
Mann hasn’t yet settled upon a revenue model for SnipSnap App, but given the rate at which the market for mobile coupons is growing, he should be able to find one.
In a report it put out in January, an English company called Juniper Research expects consumers to redeem more than $43 billion in mobile coupons worldwide in 2016, up from $5.4 billion last year.
Consumers are already used to downloading coupons from the web.
Coupons.com Inc.’s website ranked 42nd in traffic among U.S. websites in March, according to New York-based Nielsen Holdings NV. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said it powers tens of thousands of other sites where visitors can download coupons, including sites by retailers with 53,000 store locations.
Coupons.com allows consumers to print out the coupons they download or put them on their store-issued loyalty cards, but it doesn’t allow them to display images of coupons on their smart phones like SnipSnap App does.
Coupons.com does have a mobile app that allows users to compose shopping lists and notifies them when coupons for items on their lists are available on its website. And it is working with retailers, banks, mobile-payment technology companies and manufacturers on more mobile products, said Dhana Pawar, director of mobile product management.
“If anybody is going to make a huge stride in the space,” Pawar said, “it’s us.”
SnipSnap App is making some strides of its own. Mann said its app has been downloaded to 150,000 devices and been used to scan 1 million coupons as of the end of last week. On average, he said, it is being used by 50,000 people a day.