Boulder startup Nigh puts tech to use for small businesses
BOULDER — App technology aimed at benefiting small, local businesses has a track record that could be charitably described as spotty at best, with many observers concluding that companies like Groupon and Grubhub have done more harm than good.
Nigh Technologies Inc. is different, its founder Josh Ritzer told BizWest. Boulder will serve as the proving ground for whether he’s right.
The concept for small business operators is simple, he said: “Push button, get more customers.”
Boulder-born Nigh, which recently launched in its home city, works like this: A company — let’s say in this case, it’s a yoga studio — has some open spots in a class later this afternoon. The proprietor makes a brief promotional video advertising a deal for that particular class — Nigh calls these deals “drops” — and posts it to Nigh’s app platform. Dynamic geolocation technology, which the company calls the “Nigh Zone,” alerts would-be customers in the area, who can then purchase the drop and attend the yoga class.
“If you’re a yoga studio and you have a class that starts in an hour with eight people signed up when the capacity is 20, that’s 12 spots that in an hour are going to be worth zero,” Ritzer said. “We can help you reach the community and help you maximize your perishable capacity.”
Groupon promised to get more people introduced to businesses by selling loss leaders, with a big percentage of those already underpriced sales going to the app. The sale of these loss leaders often failed to generate repeat business, so the experiment was mostly a failure for many users.
With Nigh, “the math is completely different” in that “local businesses are more profitable using the technology than not using it,” Ritzer said.
The point is not to devalue a product or service in an effort to broaden a customer base. Rather it is to get some revenue for a product or service that otherwise would have generated none. There are apps for last-minute flights and hotel rooms that similarly function.
Nigh drops don’t necessarily have to be for perishable goods and services. The service can be used to drum up neighborhood excitement for a new product launch or the debut of fun menu item, or simply to make a slow time of the day a bit more lively
For example, a recent drop from Wahoo’s Fish Taco advertised a three-shot margarita, chips and salsa for $5 during certain slower periods.
Nigh, which Ritzer runs out of the Galvanize coworking space in Boulder with a small team that is complemented by interns from the University of Colorado and engineers in India, is expected to roll out in Denver by the end of the year, with other major markets across the country coming online thereafter.
“I expect this to be global within five years,” Ritzer said.