A new application launched by a Yale graduate just four weeks ago, Hotspot Deals, provides participants with discounts at restaurants and coffee shops across New Haven in return for inviting a group of friends to join.
The free app requires users to link their phones’ contact lists to the app. Hotspot Deals then reveals a list of local discounts, such as $3 Oaxaca margaritas or half-off coffee or tea at Blue State. Each coupon is redeemed by texting a certain number of friends — usually anywhere between one to five people, who get an invite to arrive at the coffee shop or restaurant in question. Everyone who responds to the invite receives a coupon and even if no one responds, the coupon is still valid for the person who sent the invite.
“This app provides a sort of social cover, making it easy to invite people through a personalized text message,” said Jasjit Singh ’12, the founder of Hotspot Deals.
Since it was first released, over 400 people have downloaded Hotspot Deals. In its first two weeks of operation, 10 businesses already signed up to partner with Jasjit, including a number of student favorites like Box 63, Briq, Thali Too and Ordinary.
One of Jasjit’s major obstacles is getting businesses to provide deals enticing enough to make students download the app. So far, the app has been popular at Oaxaca and Box 63, he said.
Restaurants and cafes realize that Hotspot Deals may be a boost to business, restaurant managers said. Franco Cavallaro, the manager of Oaxaca, said that at least 40 new customers have visited Oaxaca because of the app, Andrew Ruben, who manages Blue State Coffee, said that although only a “handful” of customers have taken advantage of Hotspot Deals so far, he is optimistic that the new app will help business in the future.
“It’s a great way for us to encourage friends to meet up at our stores,” Ruben said.
The number of people using the app has been promising, Jasjit said. He added that about 10 percent of people who receive a text about a deal actually show up, and at Oaxaca, each customer is generating about $10 to $15 in revenue for the business.
As Hotspot Deals gains more users, Jasjit said he is looking to begin charging businesses anywhere from 10 to 15 cents for every text sent out about their restaurant’s deal.
Cavallaro said Oaxaca is willing to pay a fee in order to remain a part of Hotspot Deals, as long as the price is reasonable.
Yalies interviewed expressed enthusiasm about the app. Ben Kronengold ’18 said that the app is well designed, noting specifically that each text message is customizable.
If Hotspot Deals is successful in New Haven, Jasjit plans to take his idea to other college campuses across the east coast, including New York City and Boston.
Hotspot Deals is available for in Apple’s App Store under the Lifestyle category.