Who was your first customer?
Our first big customer was and they are still with us today. [Yowza charges merchants a flat fee of $89 per month to participate in the service.] We now have thousands of locations across the country accepting Yowza mobile coupons, from McDonald’sand Dunkin’ Donuts to local salons, restaurants, clothing stores, dry cleaners and car washes.
When did you know the company would be a success?
We knew it would be successful when, three months after we launched in early 2009, we got calls from merchants who wanted to be listed on the site, instead of us having to call them. Mobile is proving to be a key part of small business marketing. I had a small retail frozen yogurt store years ago and August had a bagel shop, so we are well aware of how important it is for small business to use their marketing money wisely.
Does your celebrity status help the startup?
It would be much harder to launch [if I were not well-known]. There are other players out there who took millions worth of funding and no one knows who they are. It is tremendous to have a celebrity attached to a product. We’ve seen the number of downloads shoot up especially after [television] appearances. It's an unequivocal advantage, and one we want to continue taking advantage of.
We are looking for other platforms, as well as updates to the app, and more things going forward that I can’t talk about yet.
Follow Jessica Naziri on Twitter @jessicanaziri