Phone app flaunts campus deals

A student-run agency’s mobile application will feature coupons for campus businesses.

Advertising and design senior Chad Olsen explains his company OMG Agency’s new smart phone application outside of Blarney Pub and Grill in Dinkytown last Tuesday.  Olsen is the chief executive officer of the new advertising company that specializes in social media.  The new application, still in production, will provide users with location-based coupons, similar to the groupon idea.  Blarney Pub and Grill is one of their clients to agree to offer food and drink deals though the application when it goes public.

Advertising and design senior Chad Olsen explains his company OMG Agency’s new smart phone application outside of Blarney Pub and Grill in Dinkytown last Tuesday. Olsen is the chief executive officer of the new advertising company that specializes in social media. The new application, still in production, will provide users with location-based coupons, similar to the groupon idea. Blarney Pub and Grill is one of their clients to agree to offer food and drink deals though the application when it goes public.

Jennifer Bissell

A student-run advertising agency will be launching a beta phone application next week featuring deals and coupons for Dinkytown, Stadium Village and West Bank businesses.
The application, called Byme, will offer users discounts and giveaways and is the latest project from OMG Agency, which specializes in building social media campaigns.
The name of the application is short for âÄúWhatâÄôs by me?âÄù
 âÄúWeâÄôre driving foot traffic into these locations, stores, bars and restaurants that people normally might not go to,âÄù OMG co-founder and University of Minnesota senior Chad Olsen said. âÄúWe have a lot of people in Dinkytown excited about it.âÄù
Featured deals already scheduled to appear on the application include complimentary drinks at Blarney Pub and Grill every Thursday, discounts at Midwest Mountaineering and half off flat tire repairs at Varsity Bike & Transit.
Olsen, who helped start the agency in January, said the company has grown from $100 projects to larger campaigns bringing in as much as $30,000.
About 15 students from college campuses across Minnesota are involved with the agency, with a home base at the University.
The agency hopes to spread the application to different campuses as soon as itâÄôs ready.
âÄúWe do [all this] because we love it,âÄù Olsen said. âÄúWe want the experience, weâÄôre driven to do it, and weâÄôre not necessarily out there to get money. WeâÄôre there to get experience.âÄù
Olsen said the agency will make nothing off of the application, but hopes to profit eventually through featured deals and sponsorships.
âÄúItâÄôs meant to be free,âÄù Olsen said. âÄúWeâÄôre just trying to build our base and get off the ground.âÄù
The idea behind the application is similar to group buying sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, the Star TribuneâÄôs STeals and MN Daily Deal, which is a product of the Minnesota Daily. But users wonâÄôt be required to buy the deals beforehand.
Group buying, also known as Tuangou, originated in China, where people would connect over the Internet to plan shopping strategies.
There, a group of shoppers would pick a vendor with a specific item and meet to ask for a group discount. Often the vendor will agree because the number of sales will outweigh the loss on discounting.
Blarney general manager Rookie Lanoue said one of the biggest reasons the restaurant will be participating in the application is because it costs nothing.
âÄúItâÄôs a free return on marketing, no matter what happens with it,âÄù Lanoue said. âÄúI think everybody knows how competitive the specials are in this area and it does drive a lot of traffic.âÄù
âÄúWeâÄôre willing to give exclusive specials for the application to help us in that drink special competition,âÄù Lanoue said.
Nancy Rose Pribyl, president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association, said the application could be a great way to push students into the areaâÄôs businesses, especially if they are places students have never been to before.
âÄúI think the forward-thinking [businesses] definitely would want to get on board to at least give it a try,âÄù Pribyl said.
But with so many avenues to get coupons, whether itâÄôs in books, calendars or online, Pribyl cautioned against overwhelming customers and businesses.
âÄúI think thereâÄôs a definite uniqueness in it being a cell phone application,âÄù she said. âÄúI just question if this will be the first of several in that direction.âÄù
âÄúItâÄôs great to have options but then at some point, it does become a little bit overwhelming,âÄù Pribyl said.