It’s hard to get excited about a new daily deals startup. Time hasn’t been kind to the once-nascent category, with former daily-darlings LivingSocial and Groupon both experiencing a veritable shit-storm as revenues crater, enthusiasm drops, and the companies prove to be their own undoing.
Yet TikTakTo, a boot-strapped startup based in Montreal, is launching a Web portal built atop other daily deals sites in an attempt to show that daily deals can maybe, hopefully, become hip again. The company soft-launched at the beginning of April, and plans to introduce its iPhone and Android applications in the first week of May.
TikTakTo co-founder Raffi Keuhnelian says that daily deals services suffer because they inconvenience potential users by requiring that they provide their location, sign up for a daily email, and browse a variety of services every time they want to see if they can save a few bucks on a pair of shoes or lunch with their friends. “We wanted to jump over all those obstacles,” he says. “TikTakTo is one-stop. You go into your city, you see all the deals, and it’s a lot more convenient.”
Users are able to search TikTakTo’s database of 150,000 active daily deals from 2,000 partners for both products and deals; if they find what they are looking for they are passed along to one of TikTakTo’s partner sites, and the company gets a small commission on each sale. Keuhnelian says that there are 1,000 daily active users on the service, and that people are already purchasing items through TikTakTo’s platform.
Though it would be easy to dismiss TikTakTo as a startup that has simply bundled a bunch of flailing services together in the hopes that quantity trumps history, the service feels less like it’s meant to be a daily deals platform and more like an ever-expanding product database.
Unlike other services, which seek to monetize passive users who simply agreed to add another email to their inbox each morning, TikTakTo is acting as a gateway for users actively seeking something to purchase. “It’s easy when people are looking for a product, you have that product, and they buy it,” Keuhnelian says. “You’re not offering a product that they don’t necessarily want.”
So, while daily deals are a key part of TikTakTo’s product, they aren’t necessarily the main focus. Perhaps the easiest way to think of TikTakTo is as an Uber or G-Car for products and sales: While users are coming for the physical good, whether that’s a black car or a retail product, they’re actually paying for the convenience offered by each service. Daily deals are TikTakTo’s supply; its search tool and database are its products.
Whether TikTakTo faces the same fate as Groupon and LivingSocial or Uber and GetTaxi depends on just how many people use the site as their go-to shopping service, and that hinges on Keuhnelian’s intuition that daily deals are flailing because they inconvenience customers being right and TikTakTo being the right service to capitalize on irritation with other platforms.