Deal search and recommendation startup ChoozOn came out of beta last week, launching under the brand name Blue Kangaroo. The company plans to rebrand completely as Blue Kangaroo in the coming weeks.
ChoozOn's local presence stems from its having an office in King of Prussia where its CEO, Nick Weir, and a few other employees are based. It also has offices in the Bay area, Seattle, and the Kingdom of Jordan. Of its 40 employees, about 30 are based in Jordan. ChoozOn has raised $4.5 million from angel investors to date.
ChoozOn's three co-founders are all PHDs. Weir, who is a native Texan, originally was an astrophysicist who received his doctorate from Caltech. Subsequently he was with Goldman Sachs, and was Vice President for Data Strategy at Yahoo. The other co-founders are Yahoo alum also; Chairmam & CTO Usama Fayyad was Yahoo's Chief Data Officer and Executive VP, and Chief Marketing Officer Hunter Madsen established the product marketing unit for Yahoo Worldwide Sales.
Blue Kangaroo is built on proprietary technology that "contextually" matches users' personal interests to the deals that are best suited to them. Blue Kangaroo also give users the option of combining offers from their personal email inboxes with offers from ecommerce sites on Blue Kangaroo into a single place - a personal Blue Kangaroo email box that lets you easily scan offers, according to the company.
Currently, Blue Kangaroo says it features offers from more than 1,500 brands/retailers, deal sites, flash sales sites and discount providers. One of the biggest challenge a startup like this faces is scaling its user base. To reach its market, Blue Kangaroo has partnerships with some major players in the works that will be announced in the coming weeks, CEO Weir told me in a phone interview, and these partners will promote the service using the Blue Kangaroo brand rather than with a white label version. The service is free to consumers; monetization will come by way of commissions paid by brands and retail sites that agree to be featured on Blue Kangaroo. An Android app is expected by Christmas, with an iOS app to follow. Blue Kangaroo also offers social features which allow you to hook up with other users and see what deal offers they are receiving, and localization features down to the neighborhood or mall level.
Although there are some competitors out there already, ChoozOn sees the market as being very fragmented and believes its development of proprietary technology with emphasis on personalization will give it a distinct advantage.
King of Prussia is an important office for reaching potential partners on the easr coast, but it is not clear what expansion plans ChoozOn may have locally. The company's Jordanian presence stems largely from Fayyad, who was born in Tunisia and has been a leader in the tech startup movement in the Kingdom.
Blue Kangaroo has a sense of humor also, which I appreciate. It conducted a serious scientific survey of 1,090 US adults (see results) that tended to confirm consumer need for its service. In addition, survey respondents said that in order to punish email spammers:
o 65% would permanently block their internet access
o 14% would impose long jail sentences
o 8% would remove some of their typing fingers
o 7% would bring back the medieval rack
Although I wouldn't claim to be an expert, I found in my early exploration of the site that its easy to navigate and use.
See ChoozOn's press release.