DOWNTOWN — For local businesses looking to draw in new customers with special offers, there’s a new online option in town that’s locally operated and geared exclusively toward Santa Monica companies.
Launched by Josh Miller, a 20-year-old Santa Monica High School grad and current Princeton student, it’s called Spree Daily and went live at the website spreedaily.com today.
The concept is a new twist on a trend in online marketing: discounts at retail stores that are sold through third-party sites. Like popular websites Groupon and Living Social, the idea is to provide customers with discounts at their favorite shops and use special offers to introduce them to businesses they’ve never heard of before.
But unlike the competition, Spree Daily gives company owners complete control over the discounts they offer. Businesses simply create a profile for their store at the site and post whatever deals they want — 20 percent off a particular product, by-one, get-one free on a particular day, or a markdown for first-time customers.
“These businesses are going to have their discounts stand out,” Miller said, and unlike with some competitors, they won’t be pressured into offering incredibly steep discounts just to participate. Spree Daily will get its cut by taking 10 percent of the cost of each transaction.
Miller said he got the idea for the business over the summer and launched the company with $10,000 he’d saved up from working paid summer internships.
He approached local Web design firm Blue Sky Online to help him build the site, and the company’s two principals, Emil Gallardo, 30, and Tom Glynn, 36, got so involved they decided to buy in as partners in the venture.
From the beginning, the idea was to build a user base by reaching out to local groups like the Chamber of Commerce and City Hall’s Buy Local Committee.
Jennifer Taylor, a senior development analyst at City Hall, became one early booster. As a Buy Local steering committee member, she helped spread the word about the new site.
“We think it’s a great way to promote local businesses to our residents,” she said.
So far, 44 companies have created pages. With some 6,600 Santa Monica businesses, Miller and his partners see plenty of room for expansion.
“Our goal right now is to get as many businesses on the site as possible,” Gallardo said. “We want the site to represent everybody and to be what they want.”
There’s plans, he said, to eventually expand the page to include a platform for companies to post news about their businesses.
Early adopters also have high hopes for Spree Daily.
Stephen Abronson, owner of Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar on Santa Monica Boulevard Downtown, said it was the site’s local focus that convinced him to join in.
“I’m excited about the fact that it is a local company and that it will target what we consider to be our core audience, which are the locals,” he said.
In line with the its founders’ vision of boosting local businesses, the company also plans to build partnerships with local non-profits. Spree Daily has announced it will donate 5 percent of proceeds from today’s sales to the local council of Parent Teacher Associations, and other charitable promotions are in the works.
“We really want to be ingrained into the community,” Miller said. “We really want to continue to partner with local organizations.”