Interview with the founders of Roximity

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They’ve been doing this for a LONG time. @dannynewman and @austindenver were working in the mobile industry 8 years before the iPhone was released. Danny was one of the first in the US to create a mobile payment capability, across carriers, only to get consumer traction and then have the functionality shelved. “They (the carriers) didn’t know what to do with it.” They were also one of the first to realize the power/depth of the iPhone app market and are responsible Disney’s forthcoming iPad application to be released later this year. My kids are gonna love that one!

Needless to say; they get it. They get it AND they’ve been sitting on a location based offering since 2002; waiting for the time to get it right. (When I told them I thought the name Roximity was great, Danny told me he’d got the URL in early 2004. (I repeat. They’ve been doing this for a long time.)

Back in September, 2011, they won Ford’s SYNC App Developer Challenge, held during the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in San Francisco, and have since then, been working with Ford and other car makers to synch location based offers sent to your mobile phone with the in-dash systems pouring off of the assembly line. This makes sense given how much time we all spend in our cars and gives them powerful differentiator over services like Groupon and LivingSocial. (Not to mention a handy little go to market strategy utilizing the enormous value of the auto partners they’ve already signed up.)

Put simply, the service is SMS/MMS offers sent to your phone based on your preferences, current location and time of day. They’re not going to send you a coupon for coffee when you’re close to the location if it’s 10 at night or the place is closed.

I got a chance to sit down with Danny & Austin last week and discussed some of the other differentiators.

  • Alerts are personalized and not broadcast to a group of subscribers
  • The user controls how many offers they get a day
  • The user controls the categories of offers they get
  • This is a B2C model unlike many of their competitors

These are pretty compelling and one of the ways they knew the time was right was the ascension of Foursquare, Living Social and Groupon. Not to mention the proliferation of smartphones which for 18-34 year olds is currently at 61%. (Well when I read it, two weeks ago it was at 61%. It’s probably at 65% by now.)

We discussed the difference between aggregation and curation as it relates to the types of offers users can be served. “Our algorithms are taking a deep dive into what people opt-in to see and they can add or remove categories.” This puts curation on the side of the customer and I believe that over time, Roximity will add a mechanism that allows the user to tag an offer that’s simply not a fit.

I also believe there is a great opportunity for social commerce in this model by allowing people to share the offer with up to four of their closest friends. I think this could easily triple the amount of business they can pass on to their customers.

I asked them do you see the service evolving over the next several years. “We’re believe there is a great opportunity to focus on what businesses like Groupon don’t do well, which is personalization. Technologically we can do it and we know that most people want offers specific to what their most interested in, when it counts.”

The piece of functionality I love, that will be available in the app – to be released in May – is the ability to determine how many offers you’d like to receive during the day. This, along with the targeting, ensures that users won’t feel spammed.

I’m excited to see Roximity grow and believe they truly understand the market they’re in and the user base they’re after. Aside from that, Danny and Austin are the type of business people you want to see succeed.

To sign-up for the service, go to http://beta.roximity.com and fill out the info. As more businesses partner with Roximity, the offers will start to come to you!

By Michael Myers

I am an Associate Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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