The company is called DIVI, the app is DIVI UP, and the big idea is a charitable twist to the realtime location-based mobile deals model.
Like Groupon and similar apps — DIVI UP enables users to save money at selected restaurants, retailers and businesses that have partnered up with DIVI. When a deal is unlocked, there’s a certain amount of time to reedem it at the business and capture savings while benefitting nonprofits.
“Unlocking” discounts is the unique aspect of this app, and what makes everything work. The user pays a fee up-front to access the deal, and that fee is always 25 percent of the savings amount. Half of the unlocking fee goes to DIVI, and the other half goes to charitable causes of the company’s or user’s choosing.
It’s a somewhat complicated system at first, and cofounder and CEO Mike Miller admits that this presents a challenge.
“It’s our biggest struggle for sure, because it’s a different model than people are used to,” Miller says. “Once they’ve done it one time they get it, and it makes sense. But it’s hard to explain. There’s really nothing to relate it to.”
Miller and his fellow cofounder Chris Rheineck haven’t really needed to sell partners on climbing aboard, because the benefits are straightforward on that end. For charities, it’s an easy revenue stream; for businesses, it’s a free marketing platform.
“Because the charities benefit, they go out and market on our behalf, so we don’t have to have a Groupon-style salesforce,” Miller says. Early adopters include nonprofits such as Feed My Starving Children, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, and Make-A-Wish
“That’s a huge piece for us.”
Miller and Rheineck started the Minneapolis-based company back in February of 2014 and launched in the past quarter. They’ve been lucky enough to have a single private investor who believed in the vision and supported their growth single-handedly. The hope is to expand into regional markets across the nation over the coming years.