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chandu thot
Centerd

The Dealmap Brings The Daily Deal Obsession To The iPhone App Store

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For the daily deal obsessed on the go, a Groupon mobile app is simply not enough.

Enter The Dealmap, a daily deal aggregator that is launching its iPhone app this evening. Bringing the functionality of its website to the app store, The Dealmap helps users find the best deals in their area, whether they’re from national retailers, local vendors, crowdsourced or daily deals. With roughly 350,000 live deals in the pipeline per day, this app is the largest deal aggregator in the mobile space— at least for now.

The Dealmap is owned and operated by Center’d, a local search and discovery engine that helps users find venues, activities and plan events. Center’d was founded in 2006 by CEO Jennifer Dulski, formerly Yahoo’s VP of local markets and commerce, and CTO Chandu Thota, previously the lead developer of Microsoft Virtual Earth (today known as Bing Maps).

The startup, which has amassed $8.9 million in funding largely from Norwest Venture Partners and Keynote Ventures, didn’t find a runaway hit with its primary service, Center’d.

However, as the daily deal space heats up and aggregators become more important (esp. with Groupon and a sea of clones blanketing the web with discounts), The Dealmap could be their lucky break. The site, which launched in May, has seen decent growth in the last ten weeks.  According to Dulski,  the service now reaches 300,000 users every day through its e-mail list and its 60 Twitter accounts.

On the web, Dealmap offers a simple user interface. You can sign up for notifications with your e-mail address or you can immediately search for local deals by plugging in your zip code. Once you enter your location, the site pulls up a Google map with an approximate 10-mile radius. Deals are flagged according to their category, like health & beauty, restaurants and hotels. For those who are overwhelmed by the options, there’s a bar at the top that highlights several deals.

Here’s a look at my zip code in Palo Alto:

According to Dulski, Dealmap is the largest online repository for daily deals. The service has 150 sources for deal data, 100 of which are daily deal sites, including Groupon. The startup also pulls information from national providers, other online services like Restaurant.com, Foursquare and even users (users are encouraged to submit offers they find online or on the street). Currently, Dealmap makes most of its money from a stable of affiliate partners. While the contracts vary, in a typical transaction a daily deal site will pay Dealmap a small fraction of each transaction driven by the service.

DealMap’s iPhone app showcases most of the site’s functions— with a few additional tweaks to take advantage of the mobile platform. For example, by default, the service will automatically pull offers within a one mile radius of your current location. You can also quickly zoom in and out to expand or reduce the field.

By focusing on the meat of the service, the app is actually a preferable experience based on aesthetics.

The tabs are easy to navigate, you can quickly filter deals by categories like “top deals,” “daily deals,” “restaurants and bars,” “etc.” Furthermore, when you want to submit a deal to earn points, it’s an easier process on the mobile app. When you find an offer, power up the app, it will pull up a list of nearby businesses, tap on the store you’re looking for, take a photo and punch in a brief description of the offer and the expiration date. That may sound like a lot of effort, but the points can be traded for tangible rewards, including gift certificates for affiliate partners.

Clearly, there’s a real need for a comprehensive aggregator like Dealmap— my only frustration with the site and the app is the discovery process and the quality of the deals.

By acting as the funnel for thousands of local and national deals, Dealmap must wrestle with the gigantic challenge of making all the offers accessible and simultaneously pushing the best content to the top. Dulski, who admits it’s a work in progress, says there is an algorithm in place (related to the Center’d platform) that sorts offers based on how trustworthy the source is and the reputation of the local business.

Although largely helpful, I personally found the service occasionally frustrating and at times disappointing. For example, during my Palo Alto search, offers included “A Free iPod Touch” from the Apple Store (of course, you had to click through to learn that it was only free with the purchase of a MacBook) and what seemed to be a ridiculous deal at the Bistro 412: a $25 certificate for just $2 (except the minimum purchase is $50). Oh well, as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true…

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