September 12, 2007

C.U. Students Start Coupon Site

Print More, a term which combines “scrimp,” to be frugal with one’s money, with “simple,” is the brainchild of three Cornell undergrads who aim to save students money while boosting Ithaca’s economy. By providing free coupons which can be used at local hotspots like College Town Bagels, Aladdin’s and Ruloff’s, Scrimple claims to have saved Cornell students over $5,500 since the start of summer. It has generated almost $14,000 in revenue for local businesses.
“As students, we understand how expensive it is going out to eat or to bars. We’re trying to create something different and unique that focuses on one thing — promoting the college experience,” said Matt Ackerson ’09, founder and CEO of
Ackerson joined forces with Bobby Miller ’08. They met in a class on Entrepreneurship and Enterprise. It was taught by Prof. David BenDaniel, management, and it challenged students to create a workable business model. Ackerson and Miller decided to improve upon a similar online business from the UK — a site called
“We looked at that idea and thought we could execute it a lot better here,” said Ackerson, pointing to Scrimple’s user-friendly set-up and streamlined system for businesses. Students can print out coupons to their favorite local haunts; simultaneously, business owners can watch online as their coupons disappear — and show up in the hands of customers.
After adding Andrew McIntyre ’08 as the director of marketing and advertising, changed from a class assignment to a real business. Since its launch in April, the site has signed up 35 local businesses and reported its first profits this week.
Visitors to the webpage will find a list of the day’s most popular coupons. Some of this week’s favorites were a free appetizer at Joe’s Restaurant and a $10 freshmen special at the University Barber Shop. Miller, who designed the web page, added a tab for students with various categories of coupons for dine-in, shopping, bars and restaurants.
The “Demand it!” page allows users to request local businesses they would like to see on the website. Currently, over 500 users have requested Wegman’s, and there are over 200 votes for Taste of Thai.
“It’s good to see ties between the university and the town. As students become more regular users, it brings them closer to Ithaca,” said McIntyre.
Businesses using the website have had positive results so far — although some have commented that the site has not become popular enough yet.
“I haven’t seen any of the coupons coming in so far, although a few were printed off, supposedly. I’m really excited about it though — it would be great to have more of a presence up at Cornell,” said Ian Golden, manager of the Finger Lakes Running Company.
On the other hand, Jeff Mayer, general manager of That Burrito Place in Collegetown, has seen a surge of customers come in with Scrimple coupons.
“We certainly see them here,” Mayer said, “pretty soon I think you’re going to have to be on … it opens up a registry for us.”
Mayer said he uses the site himself, as a consumer. “Ruloff’s had a ‘buy one get one free pitcher of beer’ coupon up the other day, and I printed that off and used it myself,” Mayer said.
McIntyre said he also enjoys the Ruloff’s coupons, and Miller said he uses the site for places like Pita Pit and Subway. Ackerson, however, refuses to take advantage of the deals “out of respect for the customers,” he said.
The team attributes much of its success to Cornell’s supportive environment for entrepreneurship. “The Johnson school is one of the most prestigious schools for starting ventures, they’re incredible. There are so many opportunities available at Cornell. Anyone interested in starting a business should really take advantage of the support system here,” McIntyre said.
Eventually, the team hopes to expand into a national arena by implementing a similar model at other universities with strong local business communities like Ithaca.
“We hope to see ‘We accept Scrimple’ up at the register in most places, next to ‘We accept Visa and MasterCard,’” said Ackerson.