New York…by Tova Ross…Welcome news in this tight economy: Jewpon and jdeal are two new ventures that are capitalizing on the popular Groupon deals for city residents that offer amazing deals – this time, savings that cater to a Jewish and kosher audience. Jodi Samuels not only runs MetroImma, an online social network for working mothers, but she also has three children, is a frequent organizer of blogger and social media events, and is now the co-founder of jdeal. A wildly successful initiative offering “Jewish” coupons and deals to the public, jdeal follows the model of Groupon, which asks for a person’s city of residence, likes, and e-mail – and then sends them personalized discounts and coupons each day. Samuels explained, “My partner Allen Ganz and I were looking for business opportunities over the past year when I stumbled across the Groupon model. I thought it would be a great thing to the Jewish community.”
After much research and investing in the brand, they launched last month in the New York area. Since then, they have amassed over 3,000 e-mails of people interested in receiving great deals geared for a Jewish customer base. Jdeal has already built lists in other major Jewish cities and plans to launch soon in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, and in Toronto and Montreal. Samuels, who said she is averaging about three hours of sleep a night, said that many Jewish merchants are now realizing the potential of building a strong customer base by featuring a great deal on this particular site. “With Groupon and other similar not specifically Jewish coupons sites, many Jewish business feel that they won’t get repeat customers out of the coupon buyers ; rather, one-timer store patrons who just snapped up some great deal” she explained. “But with jdeal, if a kosher restaurant gets kosher consumers into their store for a deal, chances are, those people will keep returning if they like the food.”
The coupons that sell out the fastest? “This may be stereotypical, but the food-related discounts are always sold out within a few hours,” said Samuels. A recent jdeal offered $100 worth of groceries from Kosher.com for a mere $50. The vouchers, of which jdeal only had 100, sold out in under 2 hours. A link on the site invites merchants and business-owners to apply to be featured on the site.
Samuels explained, “I think this is an extension of marketing for Jewish businesses, what I call ‘on-steroids’ marketing using the power of social media. This is a way to see instant results of advertising – these businesses are spending money on marketing anyway, and this is marketing that you know delivers great and instantly-seen results.”
Zalmi Duchman, who recently founded Jewpon, came about his kosher coupon business another way. As the chief executive of The Kosher Diet, a diet delivery service based in South Florida that he founded with his brother several years ago, he was contacted by Groupon in 2009, asking for his business to be featured. “It was a super-successful move on our part,” recalled Duchman. “Being featured by Groupon generated half a million in sales.” Duchman and his brother had long wanted to offer a kosher diet delivery service, but when the idea was suggested to Groupon, the company wasn’t receptive. “They didn’t want to feature something that was only tailored for what is seen by some as a limited audience,” said Duchman. The two decided that there certainly was a healthy market hungering for great deals on kosher food, and so they decided to found a similar model of Groupon for a kosher audience: and Jewpon was born. “The response has been unbelievable,” said Duchman. “Our first deal featured Kosher Keepers, and our second deal, Cucumbers Café. One of our most successful ones we featured is BenZ’s Gourmet, a shop in Brooklyn.” Recent deals featured a kosher-for-Shabbos toothbrush from Kosher Innovations and a Judaica package from Aspaclaria Judaica, based in Florida. The service sends e-mails to about 3,000 people, 80 percent of whom are based in New York and the others in Miami, LA and Chicago. The service will soon expand to other cities nationwide and internationally, including, the brothers hope, in Jerusalem. Duchman said he and his brother are handling running one successful company and one burgeoning venture pretty well. “With the Fresh Diet, we have a lot of resources at our disposal,” he explains, “and we can use them as a great backbone to help us run this new business.”