Always on the prowl for new entrepreneurs, the University of Chicago has found itself a new duo intent on impacting the Hyde Park community.
First-years Jacob Rabinowitz and Kaushik Vasudevan, creators of the online homework help forum The A-Level, have returned with a new online creation to satisfy students’ and staff members’ thirst for deals: DealPuncher.com. The site celebrated its official uploading on May 8 by offering coupons for free coffee at Hallowed Grounds, a student-run café located in the heart of campus. With the intention of promoting one deal a week, Rabinowitz and Vasudevan seek to connect UChicago students and staff with Hyde Park’s many businesses.
The idea for DealPuncher, according to Rabinowitz, began during winter quarter. Though a fan of Groupon, Rabinowitz found that the discount site tended to focus on businesses far away from Hyde Park and its surrounding neighborhoods. As a college student who recently moved into the Hyde Park area, Rabinowitz was particularly interested in the little shops and restaurants near his campus. Unfortunately, Groupon could not provide Rabinowitz with the knowledge about Hyde Park hangouts that Rabinowitz and so many other students sought.
Motivated by their experiences, Rabinowitz and Vasudevan decided to take matters into their own hands and create a resource for UChicago students and staff to enrich their understanding of Hyde Park’s businesses. And so they created DealPuncher, a discount site that they insist is not a competitor against Groupon. The duo brainstormed their ideas by employing skills they learned from designing the A-Level, which Rabinowitz cites as a great foundation for DealPuncher.
“[Creating The A-Level] helped [Kaushik and I] immensely in a few ways,” says Rabinowitz. “It taught us how to work together and about key concepts of business planning. Except this time, we made sure that we had more time to plan out DealPuncher than we did when we made The A-Level.”
Eventually, Rabinowitz and Vasudevan decided to take their idea to the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. Composed of 220 businesses, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce provided the duo with a large audience to pitch their ideas. The goal was not only to convince businesses that DealPuncher could thrive, but also to persuade them to promote their goods and services on the site.
“[The businesses owners] loved DealPuncher,” Rabinowitz elaborates, “And it was great that we could market to such a huge number of businesses. The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce gives us access to around 220 businesses, which is a huge number that basically guarantees that we will never run out of deals to promote.”
One of DealPuncher’s main functions is to market lesser known shops and restaurants around Hyde Park. While UChicago students and staff are familiar with the small businesses near campus, Rabinowitz and Vasudevan are determined to encourage the UChicago community to explore beyond their familiar circles. With 220 businesses, as Rabinowitz explains, the possibilities to try new food, services, and products is endless, but in order to have access to those businesses, customers must have knowledge that they exist. Hence, DealPuncher acts as a facilitator between the UChicago community and businesses who, in the past, may not have had many dealings with UChicago customers.
DealPuncher also aims to reveal facets of Hyde Park’s most popular businesses about which UChicago students and staff may not have known. Rabinowitz uses Noodles and the restaurant’s new baos, which are small Asian buns usually filled with beef and pork, to illustrate the objective.
“Most people here know about Noodles and how popular their noodles are. But what they don’t know is how good Noodles’s baos are because not a lot of people order them. So what DealPuncher is going to do, in this case, is offer coupons for Noodles’ baos in order to let people taste them.”
UChicago students and staff can visit the DealPuncher site, register as a user, and redeem the deal for that week completely free of charge. However, the process is competitive as only a certain amount of people can receive the deal. Regardless of the competitiveness, the UChicago community has taken a liking to what DealPuncher has to offer, with the website obtaining 70 users during its first week, as well as 88 fans on its Facebook page.
In light of DealPuncher’s initial success, Rabinowitz and Vasudevan are confident that DealPuncher will only continue to grow. For next year, the duo intends to establish a strong user base at UChicago along with incorporating deals for student organizations.
But in the far future, Rabinowitz says, DealPuncher will hopefully grow to include various branches at different college campuses. Though that dream remains far because of how recently DealPuncher began, it will be a goal toward which Rabinowitz and Vasudevan can work.
And a good part of their ability to do so, according to Rabinowitz, will be UChicago’s pro-entrepreneur environment.
“A big part of entrepreneurship is brainstorming and thinking, and UChicago is a school whose academic reputation is partly because the university bases its education around thinking. Here, you have a group of really bright individuals who are eager to test their ideas and experiment in a practical setting. And though entrepreneurs are bound to fail sometimes, here at UChicago you can really learn from your mistakes and re-establish yourself with new ideas.”
With that, let us see how DealPuncher develops in the future.
Visit http://dealpuncher.comfor great deals in Hyde Park. You can also visit DealPuncher’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/DealPuncher/183053688397779?ref=ts&sk=wall