Vouchr Ltd. today launched the Vouchr iPhone application, a free, fun, and simple way to make the best local recommendations for friends and family. Backed by notable investors such as Extreme Venture Partners towards a $1M seed round, the Vouchr app is available immediately in Canada on the iPhone App Store. Vouchr distinguishes itself from similar services through its novel approach to recommendations. Through the app, users ‘vouch’ for experiences they love at real-world locations by creating vouchers that only their Facebook friends can claim. The first friend to claim the voucher using the Vouchr app gets a gift of cash dedicated towards enjoying that experience. Why just recommend a great burger to your friends when you can give it to them as a gift?
“The idea for Vouchr came out of our frustration with the abundance of empty information being shared by friends and family on our social feeds,” said Vouchr founder Robert Balahura. “If someone shares a Lolcat video, I can watch it and re-share it, but I can’t do much with a friend’s check-in or a photo of the burger they just ate. With Vouchr, we want you to eat the burger, too.”
Vouchr also stands apart from the recent swath of ‘gifting’ services in several key ways. Vouchr leverages its deep PayPal integration to provide peer-to-peer (P2P) voucher transactions, eliminating any need for merchant involvement. The lack of required merchant involvement, coupled with the user-generated nature of vouchers, means that there is no limit to the types of local experiences that can be vouched for: from a delicious burger or rare microbrew, to an evening at the theatre or favourite yoga class.
By empowering users to recommend, discover, and enjoy real-world experiences through their social graph, Vouchr also provides great benefit to local merchants. In addition to driving customers to physical locations, the Vouchr app allows merchants to identify advocates for their most popular products and services.
“We’re very excited about Vouchr’s potential to allow merchants to know more about their customers, and which ones they should be targeting,” said Vouchr co-founder Michael Humphries. “Being able to know which specific products your customers are advocating for, and who those advocates are, is far more valuable than knowing how many times a customer has checked into your location, for example. And that’s just the start.”
Extreme Venture Partners (EVP) led the round, with participation from key employees from Facebook, Google, and American Express. Vouchr Co-founders Robert Balahura and Michael Humphries have a track record of founding successful companies, including Robert’s EVP-backed social gaming platform startup J2Play, which was acquired by EA in 2009.
“Rob is a visionary entrepreneur, who is well ahead of the curve in spotting trends and market shifts,” said Suresh Bhat from Extreme Venture Partners. “He has a proven ability to execute, and we look forward to helping him create the category leader in local recommendations.”
The Vouchr Canadian trial launch features a v1.0 build built using HTML5 to quickly validate the core experience through user feedback. Future versions of Vouchr will be full native to iterate and improve on the core experience, with full North American availability to follow in early 2013.
“We feel that vouching is an entirely new social experience,” said Robert. We’re excited to get Vouchr out there and see the response, and then use that feedback to build a better product.”