Some of the most well-known restaurants in New Hampshire’s largest cities are getting a new boost in business thanks to a little piece of technology that successfully launched in November.
The dealici app aims to be a win-win for everyone - restaurants and their customers. Customers using the app get substantial discounts for dining during non-peak hours. The restaurants are assured of some foot traffic to shore up their bottom lines, helping to cover their "fixed costs", which are incurred whether the facility is full or empty.
“Fair deal for a square meal” is the app’s tagline. With its easy “sharing” capabilities, customers who purchase the same advertised deal get higher discounts; the more buyers the greater the ultimate discount.
The dealici app connects people in the community, even if they don’t know each other. Customers also earn dealici points that accumulate for future discounts.
Company co-founder and CEO Vineet Bansal explains that, when he set out on his own after a career as an executive with Fidelity Investments, he knew he wanted to do something to help local businesses.
“First, I had this notion of somehow creating community buying power,” he said. “I didn’t exactly know how I could do that. The app developed out of that idea.”
With his partners, he eventually landed on the problem he wanted to solve: how to bring more customers into restaurants during the slow times and to give the customer a role in bargaining.
With just the app idea in mind, Vineet sought help from several local resources including the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, where his wife, San, had been helped over her nine years running a business that sells gemstones and jewelry.
“Andrea (O’Brien) had been such a great help to her when she was launching a new product line,” Vineet explains. “The resources she offered us were amazing. I really felt like I was with someone who was working to help me become successful; she wasn’t just doing her job.”
Working with Andrea, an NH SBDC business advisor based in Manchester, led to connecting with another advisor within NH SBDC, Warren Daniel, who is based on the Seacoast and has restaurant industry expertise. Vineet and Warren continue to work together. Eventually, NH SBDC business advisor Hollis McGuire was also brought in because of her experience with tech start-ups in the state.
“We’ve been meeting with Hollis every couple of months for some time now, to get her perspective on our business overall. She looks over how it’s going; she often has suggestions on where we can go for legal advice, for example,” Vineet said. “Now we’re looking to raise some equity and that may be the next important thing for us in working with her.”
Meanwhile, Andrea has gone out of her way to make connections for us. “She reviewed some of our pitch decks (PowerPoint slides) early on and helped with our marketing efforts within the restaurants,” Vineet said.
His wife, San, continues to work with Andrea, while helping in the dealici effort as well. “It’s a little bit of a juggling act,” Vineet admits.
When they needed some data analysis, Andrea arranged for research using the SBDC.net Clearinghouse, a service available to SBDC business advisors across the country.
“There is absolutely nothing that I have asked for that Andrea has said no to. When she didn’t know something, she said she would find out!”
It’s still a little early to get all the metrics, but by most accounts, the app is doing well, Vineet said. An ever-growing list of restaurants have signed on in Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth, and Vineet explains dealici wants to attract the most well-known, quality places offering a diverse range of cuisines.
“The app is fun to use and it becomes kind of a game among friends,” Vineet explains.
Vineet works with the NH SBDC business advisors on his long-range plan as well, which includes first expanding into Massachusetts and eventually into the entire northeast region. Going national is the plan for 2018.
More information about the dealici app can be found at dealici.com, and users can download it for free for iOS and Android at their respective app stores.