Is the Groupon Economy Big Enough for Side Businesses?

Addicted to Groupon, LivingSocial, YouSwoop and TownHog (and the many other Groupon groupies), where the appeal of an amazing expiring deal snags you — but then you get busy and forget to ever print or use the coupon you bought? It happens to all too many of us. But now there’s a site — DealsGoRound — where you can buy and sell daily deals rather than let them go to waste.

DealsGoRound is a side project of Chicago entrepreneur Kris Petersen, and since beta-launching in 52 cities on March 1 has hosted just 30 transactions. Petersen tells us that he came up with the idea after letting a $160 pair of Segway tours of downtown Chicago expire because he was too busy with work and training for a marathon. “I realized my impulses didn’t always coexist with my calendar,” he said. The site doesn’t verify deals but it doesn’t take a cut of them, either; Petersen wants to monetize through advertising.

DealsGoRound bears a parallel to sites like Cardpool (our profile) and Plastic Jungle, which have emerged recently to buy and sell unused purchases in the $100 billion gift card market. Though interest (and venture funding) in Groupon-type businesses is exploding, it’s not there yet.

But other sites like 8coupons and Yipit have launched side services for daily deals too — aggregating and repackaging them on a map or an email, respectively. In a sense, these sites help grow the Groupon economy in that they increase distribution for deals, which are ultimately monetized by the companies that set them up when people purchase them.

Yipit, for example, sends a very nicely formatted email newsletter of all the deals in your local area, giving top billing to the ones in categories you’ve indicated you like. It’s the kind of thing that makes you unsubscribe from Groupon, losing their tight connection with you and their quantifiable recurring email recipient. After all, being a deal seeker isn’t about brand loyalty; it’s about finding the absolute best and most relevant deal as quickly as possible!

But these are young and evolving concepts. The folks at Yipit told me they’re trying to put together a local advertising network to sell highly targeted deals ads on local blogs and news outlets. As far as new businesses go, that certainly seems like a better and more scalable idea than creating yet another Groupon groupie with its own local ad sales team in every city.

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