In one anecdote after the other, smart shoppers buy up heaps of Sunday newspapers for the coupons which are then clipped, categorized and taken to the store for discounts. There are even coupon consultants who help shoppers maximize the act of couponing. But just over a decade ago, Steven Boal watched his father-in-law clipping coupons from the Sunday paper and saw a tech business in the making. Consequently, Coupons.com was born, taking the coupon into the digital world. While a majority of coupons are still clipped from newspaper inserts, venture capitalists are banking on the digital coupon as the model of the future. In the past few months Coupon.com, from Silicon Valley, has attracted around $230 million in VC funding, with the last $30 million coming from a group headed up by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn.
The digital coupon is on the cusp of major innovation and growth. It can travel about effortlessly in the worlds of mobile and social media. At least that’s the viewpoint of investors in Coupon.com. It’s said to be one of the tech industry’s “best kept secrets.” Among the numerous couponing sites, Coupons.com has emerged as the go-to place for big and small companies wishing to use coupons as part of their marketing strategy. Along the way they acquired Grocery iQ which has an app for shopping lists among other things. As the VC people see it, Coupons.com is an unusual company with a “market defining” business model. Who would have guessed?
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