Loopt Experiments With Inverted Daily Deal Structure

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Loopt yesterday announced the debut of Loopt u-Deals, which turns the concept of the daily deal on its head. Instead of passively receiving daily discount offers and deciding whether to buy in, Loopt users will be able to hone their DIY chops by selecting their own “deal” (from among three available choices), requesting that Loopt approve it, and gathering friends for buy-in pending its approval. A few purchase slots will also remain open for additional users on some deals.

Sam Altman, the company’s co-founder and CEO pointed out in a statement that u-Deals promote a “team effort,” as Loopt users, interested friends and family, Loopt itself, and local merchants all need to work together to make them happen.

Loopt is cleverly taking a labor burden off local merchants (and itself) by allowing users to generate the deals they’d most like to see. As Sharon Howell, Loopt senior manager of corporate communications puts it, this arrangement avoids the awkward “vegetarian receiving steakhouse deals” scenario.

It remains to be seen whether Loopt employees’ time will be wasted as they scramble to pitch merchants on approval of multiple deals, rather than agreeing upon a single pre-approved offer. VentureBeat’s Cody Barbierri notes that the u-Deal structure asks users to gather friends and family, which could mean increased spam — and, I’d add, increased disappointment — as merchants reject deals with too few potential buyers.

Loopt users in San Francisco who have the Android version of the app get to play first; other markets and mobile platforms are coming soon. ChompOn, a group buying platform, will partner with Loopt to process u-Deals.