Steal This Business Idea. Make Millions. Thank Me Later

by Darwin on March 17, 2013

Someone may have thought this one up already but I’ve seen nothing about it in the press.  I was inspired by similarly themed pricing models for first, skiing lift tickets (posted about Liftopia and how to never pay full price for lift tickets again), and then today, on this new movie theater discounted ticket startup started making the rounds Dealflicks on CNBC.  Have you ever gone to a movie and the theater has like 6 people in it and wondered how that’s even cost-effective?  I think about stuff like this all the time – variable pricing models.  If it’s opening night for a hot new movie, shouldn’t it stand to reason that a ticket costs more than a so-so movie 1 month after launch where you’re the only one in the theater?  Hence, movie tickets SHOULD be discounted at a certain point to entice people to overcome that threshold where it does or doesn’t make sense to go and drop a load of money to see something on the big screen.  Well, that’s what that startup does.  (unfortunately at the moment, they have virtually no theaters signed up – closest one to me was over 50 miles away, but I assume this will catch on since the model seems to make sense).  I was also lamenting the crappy warm weather and skiing conditions where ski resorts charge full price when 18 of 22 trails are closed because there’s nothing but mud and grass.  Are they kidding?  They should charge less to get more people to show up due to the discount; surely, nobody even went that weekend!  And if they did, they were really desperate.  I would sooner drive the 2 hours further (which we did) to get a decent skiing experience rather than paying full price for crap. Hence, that liftopia business I linked to earlier.  So here’s my idea:

Discounted Dining Experience

I hate lines.  I hate waiting.  It sounds terrible to admit, but during recessions, I do enjoy going out more because fewer people are out spending money and I can actually go out on a weekend and get a table without waiting.  Not everyone takes reservations and for those that do, hot restaurants book up days in advance.  Want a table?  9:45PM is the only slot.  No thanks.  So, what about variable pricing (basically offering discounts) to various local restaurants on weeknights?  If restaurants simply charged a bit more as their “standard pricing”, they’d probably still be full or not regardless on Friday and Saturday nights, but then they could deeply discount via online discounts through a similar service during the week.  All you’d have to do is mimic the same business model – set up a US-based portal, line up tons of restaurants for some sort of automated/real-time discounting database, agree on your transaction fee and get the word out there for diners.  It’s kind of like a real-time Groupon without all the hassles.  Discounts more along the lines of 10-20% off would greatly increase the volume of both willing participant restaurants and customers.  I’d bite!

Given my involvement in way too many projects already (a real job, blogging, freelancing, my partnership in a CAD Outsourcing Business, Real Estate) along with being a parent to 3 young kids, I’m spent.  No matter how great an idea comes around, I can’t do any more.  So, I’m handing it off to some lucky reader to run with it.  All I ask is when you sell out in a few years for a cool hundred million bucks, you give me some free vouchers!

What Are Your Thoughts On This Business Model?

Could It Work?  Scalable?  Could It Be Profitable?


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents March 17, 2013 at 8:52 pm

I buy discount tickets for movies. The movie theaters sell them in books of 50 tickets fro $300 plus postage. Restaurants offer early bird specials, but I don’t think it has gone electronic. It is usually frequented by senior citizens and found mostly in Florida. I think it is a good idea though to take something simple and find a way to monetize it.


Darwin March 21, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I have taken advantage of the occasional matinee and early bird special; love a deal!


Rubin March 18, 2013 at 10:19 pm

There is a startup company called moolagram that has a very similar business model that you’re describing.


Darwin March 21, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Hmm, I checked them out and they don’t seem to be very established; not sure any customers know to even use them even if local restaurants had a deal?


Rubin March 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm

They are a very new company. They just got the funding to launch the business in Chicago and New York. I know they are targeting restaurants, bars, etc, but it’s yet to be determined how successful it will be.


Bob Gold March 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm

I like the idea of a Groupon like discount without the hassle of having to buy it online ahead of time and then remember to use it. Many of our local restaurants offer really good happy hours with discounted appetizers and drinks. I think you are right that many restaurants could charge somewhat higher prices on the weekends, especially in cities where there are so many potential customers out there, Even in our little town, some of the better restaurants could probably get away with this. The week night discounts would likely attract more customers making up for the revenue lost by the lower prices. Interesting idea!


Darwin March 21, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I’m thinking restaurants (and clients) could optimize this so much further. So, on any given night, they could ramp discounts up and down. For instance, on superbowl sunday, virtually nobody eats out – might be a night where they discount like 30% whereas no discount on Fri and Sat. They could offer even a deeper discount for deals only to be used on that day of purchase. They could do so bc some will not be used (car accident, emergency, whatever) and that buffer allows for a deeper discount while maintaining same profit.


101 Centavos March 24, 2013 at 7:51 am

Depends on the revenue streams of this business model: a point or two commission on each sale? Would have to fire up the spreadsheet to find out the breakeven point.


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