Tim Rothwell, one of the co-founders and managing director of UMeTime, recently answered a few questions about the new startup, which launched last week in Austin.
The company has been under development for a year and a half.
UMeTime has raised $862,000 and is seeking an additional $500,000, according to Rothwell.
Q. What is UMeTime?
A. UMeTime is a tool that allows businesses to connect with local customers in real-time. Business owners are in complete control of the technology, and can use it however and whenever they’d like … speed up their slow hours, fill empty chairs and tables, and sell a new product or service.
UMeTime delivers local customers into the door, so the chances of them turning into a repeat customers is much greater. Plus, merchants can test the effectives of their campaigns with UMeTime’s Merchant Management Tool Suite, which provides real-time analytics and reports.
Think of UMeTime as a marketing solution rather than a daily deal service.
UMeTime is also a free mobile application that connects consumers with local businesses and deals that are happening around them right now. With the “Blast Out” technology, users have the ability to receive notifications from all Food and Beverage merchants that are running specials at any given time in their immediate area. “My Tab” is a consumer’s personal filter tool to customize their “deal-feed” and choose individual merchants that they want to receive instant offers from.
No more spam, no more distant offers, and no more Botox specials! Support local Austin businesses and connect like never before!
Q. How did you come up with idea?
A. I moved up to Los Angeles following my studies with Brett Berman, who has been my best friend of 12 years and business partner in UMeTime. It’s quite funny how we came up with the concept of UMeTime. The very first bar that we went to was a hip place on Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach. We were shocked when our beers were $9 a piece, given that we were absolutely broke! Our solution at the time was to subscribe to all of the daily deal sites to receive all of the best offers from businesses in our local area. Within a few days we quickly realized that this was a mistake as our email inbox began to overflow with Brazilian Bikini Wax-type offers from “local” businesses that happened to be 45 minutes away. UMeTime, in the early days, was built to be the ultimate happy hour guide, where merchants can post real-time specials throughout the day, depending on
their slow hours and types of drinks/food specials that they want to “Blastout!” Of course, it has evolved since then, but our core remains the same … put the merchants in charge of their offers and the terms, and put the user in charge of their “deal-feed.” UMeTime is the hyper-local technology that connects the two.
Q. Why did UMeTime move from Los Angeles to Austin?
A. I’ve been coming to Austin for the past 3 years. I have good college friends that grew up here, and we would travel to Austin every opportunity we could. (ACL, Halloween, UT Football games). For a few years, I remember telling Brett how awesome Austin is, and giving him detailed reports on my trips. Finally, in November of 2011, we took a trip here from LA to scope it out and get a feel
for the technology scene, and how it differs from CA. This city began to grow on us, we knew there was something special about Austin. Over time, we recognized that this city would be the best market to launch the technology. Some of the most dedicated and loyal people out there, Kyle Nathanson, Dan McKernan, and Kristian Zak made the move with us to launch the company. The great part about it is that we are all best friends, so it’s been a great experience for us to do this together.
Q. Who’s your competition?
A. Of course the big Daily deal companies come to mind, such as Groupon, Living Social, etc. The issue for the merchants is that the terms of the offer are not in favor of the local merchant. The customers redeeming these specials are what we call, “one night standers”, or bargain hunters who are there to redeem an insanely discounted, long-term offer and rarely visit the merchants
again. 9 out of 10 businesses require marketing solutions that are targeted to deliver local, loyal and regular customers on terms that do not cannibalize their current profit margins. The market response of the early entries to the “discount” marketplace, including household names such as Groupon and Living Social, deliver distribution channels for deeply discounted offers BUT only on terms and conditions that the merchant cannot possibly sustain.
Q. What are your plans for the company during the next year and the next few years?
A. We are excited to be launched in our first market, Austin, Texas! Our immediate goals are to get some traction in the market and observe how local merchants and users engage with the technology. We strongly feel that college-based markets will be UMeTime’s sweet spot, and we have identified many ways that we can strategically integrate ourselves with the University and it’s students. Our 1-year goal is to have a strong presence in 10 University-based markets by the end of 2013, and by the end of 2014 we want to be in 60 markets, while exploring international expansion.
Q. Who makes up your team?
A. Tim Rothwell – Co-Founder/Managing Director, Brett Berman – Co-Founder/Managing Director, Donald Clark – COO, Kristian Zak – Community Marketing Director, Dan McKernan – Director of Digital Marketing and Advertising, Kyle Nathanson – Sales Director/Campus Marketing, Robert Varela – Business Development & Sales, Michael Hernandez – Business Development & Sales, Tyler Reynolds – Business Development & Sales, Diego Hernandez – SEO & Graphic Design, Genevieve Andretti – Customer Support.
Q. How is UMeTime financed?
A. Friends, Family, and Angels
Q. How does UMeTime make money?
A. UMeTime charges the business when we deliver a paying customer in the door, which is when the business wants it, on their terms, and selling the inventory that they want to sell. For every customer that UMeTime
delivers during a “Blastout” (1-3 hr deal campaign pushed to a 2-mile radius), UMeTime charges $1. For each “Deal” (Longer campaign that receives increased visibility, and instantly notifies customers who are “following them”), UMeTime collects 25% of the revenue on the deal, and releases 75% plus any overspend to the merchant. In the future, we may implement a monthly subscription fee for the use of
Q. Anything else you want to make a point of that we haven’t asked you
A. We have recently moved our team and business operations to Austin from California. We feel that Austin is the place to be, and we look forward to building technologies that benefits local business and Austinites. The startup community has been great to us, and we now know why this city is so special and a great market to launch a business.
Q. What’s your favorite local startup resource?
A. The Austin Chamber of Commerce has been great to us, and has opened many doors for UMeTime. We are very thankful to them for what they’ve done, not only for UMeTime, but for the city of Austin and the startup community.
Texas Entrepreneur Network has been a great resource for UMeTime and has allowed us to get plugged in within a short time. They’ve provided an “Austin Resource” section, which pretty much breaks down everything tech going on in Austin and resource links for startups. The Capital Factory has enabled UMeTime to meet a lot of great people, and has abundant resources to assist startups at any stage.