But the website is not the only daily discount deal in town. Angelo Zucaro is trying to replicate the erstwhile high flyer, with a more local focus.
FairfieldCoupon.com takes the Groupon concept — one offer a day — and gives it a community twist.
He mentions the tanning salon Sunsations — with locations in Westport and Norwalk — and a ballroom dance studio (offering a perfect-for-Valentine’s Day discount) among the businesses with clear local appeal.
Angelo knows Fairfield County — and business. A 1994 graduate of Staples (where he served as football captain), he majored in accounting at the University of Buffalo. He went into tech sales, and helped build a pair of businesses: Indeed.com, a job search engine in Stamford, and Dattobackup.com, in Norwalk.
As a local company, Angelo says, FairfieldCoupon’s sales staff can personally talk to the businesses they solicit. “Groupon makes phone calls from Chicago or New York. If I call on a merchant and see he’s in an unsafe location, I won’t promote the deal.”
Businesses like physical therapists and personal trainers are good targets for his company. Restaurants, he says, are great — but difficult to get.
“They have fixed costs,” Angelo notes. “They want flexibility on our splits, and on what they can give the customer. But our consumer wants a 50% discount. We tell them there’s no upfront costs, and this is a way of getting their name out there.”
Sometimes that approach works. But to meet that demand, Angelo says, he may sometimes eat the cost himself.
Angelo admits, “we’re late in the game.” However, he says, “we’ll get a good following.”
If so, Groupon’s weak earnings may not be its only bad news.