Ever had a group of friends who wanted to head out for a night on the town, only to discover everyone’s wallets wouldn’t support such an undertaking? Look no further than Poggled, a Chicago-based company deriving its name from a British slang word for inebriated, that allows subscribers to sign up and get deals on drinks, appetizers and more.
Founded last year by Joe Mathews and Sean Strother, Poggled follows a GroupOn like approach to the bar and restaurant industry. Mathews and Strother joined forces originally to bring a better way of gathering data about the industry, like what kind of liquor people prefer.
“Nobody really knows about the bars and restaurants and the space of nightlife,” said Mathews. “(What kind of liquor people prefer) that kind of data comes from liquor and grocery stores, not from the industry itself.”
And the GroupOn approach is no accident. Mathews and Strother formed the original Poggled idea while Mathews was attending the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and one of Mathews’ professors, Eric Lefkofsky (of Lightbank), was a founder of the online giant.
After working on the site for three to four months, and growing the member numbers from 30,000 to 100,000, Poggled became Mathews and Strother’s full-time gig. This is where Lefkofsky came into play, providing investment funds and bringing the new site under his “umbrella of companies.”
The site has been growing steadily over the weeks by offering deals like Wednesday’s $12 for dinner and drinks during the broadcasted Blackhawks game at The Atlantic Bar and Grill in Lincoln Square to drinks and free batting cages at Sluggers in Wrigleyville. The major difference between GroupOn and Poggled is the latter’s deals are good for specific days and times, while GroupOn’s deals have an expiration date several months from the offered date. If subscribers forget to print out the deal, no problem. The subscriber can simply tell the bartender or server the codes and have them redeemed.
On Sunday, December 19, Poggled will be updating the site with even more deals, up to 70 to 80 per week, said Mathews.
The SuperDelegate feature also allows subscribers to make a little extra cash. People who sign up and promote Poggled’s deals can receive a 20 percent commission and free drinks at the promoted event. They can keep the money for themselves while gathering friends together or can use the event as a means to raise money for charity, said Mathews.
Mathews is quick to say GroupOn is more of a mentor than competitor.
“Maybe GroupOn becomes like WalMart : a major retailer for everyone,” said Mathews. “Poggled would be like Best Buy or Home Depot. We’re focusing on a small, narrow section of that.”
Currently, Chicago is the only market Poggled is offered in, but Mathews said the team is working on an expansion plan that would hopefully extend to New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami and beyond. Strother currently splits his time between Chicago and Miami.
Another part of the expansion plan hinges on partnering with different alcohol companies and seeing what Poggled can do for them, and in turn, what the company can do for Poggled.
As for beginning in Chicago, Mathews knows his company is going after “a trillion dollar market” offering a “depth of market and lots of economic activity.”
“We’re not going to talk to just one bar owner,” said Mathews. “We may talk to 20, and get 18 to say yes. That’s awesome, with lots of opportunities and lots of customers.”