For a growing number of Chicago-area nightspots, Poggled is the straw that stirs the drink. Poggled (a synonym for excessive drunkenness first popularized in the late 19th century) mixes a shot of local deals services like Groupon with a dash of social networking interactivity to quench the thirst of consumers looking for new places to drink--or old haunts to revisit. Users access the Poggled website or the startup's smartphone app to purchase exclusive drink deals and party packages redeemable onsite at nearby taverns, sports bars, live music destinations and dance clubs. Bargains can be filtered by neighborhood, day of the week, category and venue name, and shoppers can share offers via Facebook and Twitter.
Co-founders Joe Matthews and Sean Strother, who first met in high school, started Poggled as a social network for drinkers before they embraced the deals model. "Bars want people, but they don't want just any people--they want the right type of person for that bar," Matthews says. "We try to bring them the people they want, and we do that by offering deals. Most consumers don't just buy our package and leave. They end up sticking around. And if people love the place they go to and get treated well, they go back."
Pour and Serve
Poggled offers Windy City barflies an average of 50 different deals at any given time. Consumers have scooped up tens of thousands of deals so far, and though terms can vary with each partnership, Poggled typically agrees to a 50/50 revenue cut on all promotions. "Bars don't have to write a check to us unless people come in," Matthews says. "The consumer pays us--we take our cut, and give the rest to the venue." Despite sharing office space with Groupon, Poggled's founders insist their concoction is no clone. "It's not 'Groupon for nightlife'--our deals are available all the time, not for just a limited time, and you can buy them when you walk into the bar," Strother says, noting that Poggled also targets a different kind of consumer. "When you buy deals on the web, there has to be a plan," he says. "That's not the behavior of going to bars. It's very spontaneous. That intersection between mobile and social is where the bar deal space is going to go."
The Next Round
Matthews and Strother plan to expand Poggled's reach to more metropolitan areas. They're also negotiating with alcohol manufacturers to more closely integrate their brands into the Poggled service. Naturally, a lot of those talks take place in local bars. "Business meetings in bars foster a relationship that is more genuine," Strother says. "In a bar, you can put your hair down, be yourself and really get to know somebody."
Chicago-based writer Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of Fiercemobile content, a daily electronic newsletter dedicated to mobile media, applications and marketing.