Meet Howler, the Boston startup that has Groupon in its sights
WeWork Spotlight: This is a continuing series that features a number of inventive startups coming out of Boston’s WeWork community.
When it comes to finding the best deals for your favorite restaurant, bar, or local eatery, there is an abundance of apps and services out there that can help you find the best value. Although the idea of having a surplus of apps like Groupon and Living Social (which scour the city for the best deals) may sound convenient, it can actually be more bothersome than helpful. Take Groupon for example, in order to find the best deal, you have to actively look on their app or website and indicate which promotions you’re interested in. Then from there, your inbox is terrorized on a consistent basis.
There has to be a better way.
What if you could just walk by one of your favorite pizza shops and suddenly have a notification appear on your phone alerting you of a 2-for-1 deal at that very pizza shop you just passed by. This is exactly the disruptive thinking that the Boston startup, Howler, is promising. “Our main premise for consumers is to bring the deals to you,” a spokeswoman for Howler, Jessica Grill, told KnowTechie in a phone interview.
How can they accomplish this, though? Howler utilizes iBeacons to transmit deals, advertisements, and alerts directly to people’s phones. If you’re not familiar with the term, iBeacons are essentially low energy radios that calculate your location precisely to the mark. Even going as far to working indoors. “The good thing about iBeacons, unlike GPS and other technologies, is that it’s very low energy, meaning it’s not going to drain consumer’s phones.” It’s pretty common knowledge at this point that some apps are very taxing on iPhone batteries “so we’re trying to steer clear of that,” Grill adds.
Putting the coolness of iBeacons aside, there’s much more to Howler than meets the eye. Take for example how they feed relevant deals to your phone. After installing Howler on your device, it is then connected directly to your Facebook account. This way it can collect basic data information such as your age range, gender, and what your likes are to really target the deals you want. “Instead of having to go search for something that really fits your interests, we use Facebook and social media data to aggregate what things we think you may be interested in” Grill further explains.
Here’s a perfect example: “If you’re a vegetarian, and you indicate that you’re a vegetarian, you’re not going to get advertisements for steak or Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s very intuitive in terms of knowing what exactly users like and dislike,” Grill points out. If in the off chance you get ads that you’re not interested in, all you have to do is wipe and delete them, and if you delete them enough times, you’ll stop getting advertisements all together. This way you’re not get bombarded with ads that are not relevant to your life.
On the business side, Howler offers its retailers a wealth of resources to help them attract more customers to their local business. When new retailers sign up, Howler sends out team members on site to install the iBeacon. From there, business owners plug in their details, similar to setting up a Facebook account. “It’s very simple to do” Grill adds. When it comes to advertising, vendors get full creative control. They can control every aspect of content that goes on their digital flier. Advertisers can target gender, age, or whatever to nail down a certain demographic. They even get analytics too. “At Howler, we really believe in revitalizing urban communities by enabling these small businesses to get control over their advertisements.”
Howler is exclusively available for iOS at this time. Plans for Android release are due sometime in fall of 2015. Howler does have some plans in the works for the future and Grill was kind of enough to fill me in on the details. One of them being a new feature that works on a FourSquare model where “customers can check into a particular bar in real time” as opposed to FourSquare where you have to wait and see after the fact. “With Howler you’ll be able to see in real time who has checked in similar places as you and who has liked similar advertisements as you. It’s all about connecting businesses with consumers, but it is also connecting them with the community.”
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