There’s really nothing quite like the energy and enthusiasm of a Silicon Valley bootstrap start-up. I’ve seen and felt the energy of a new company right outside my office door for several months now. But, being that a management consultant must respect the privacy and confidentiality of others, I’ve intentionally closed my eyes and ears to what’s been going on. I figured when the time was right, they’d tell me what they're up to.
Recently, I met the founders of this company that I now know as Dobango: Ravi Mishra, President & CEO, Uday Chaka, COO, and Uday Nayak, CTO. After hearing and seeing what their team is doing, I wanted to write about them. Think about it. What if this scrappy little company is the "next big thing" in deals like Groupon and LivingSocial, and it all started right outside my office door? Of course, the advantage of being a new kid on the block is you can learn from earlier pioneers.
Dobango is trying to seize the opportunity to capitalize on the convergence of 4 market factors: mobile, social, games and deals.
The Dobango founders have decades of collective experience in consumer-facing technologies and see vast potential capitalizing on the convergence pictured above. Dobango wants to address the total market, offering solutions on multiple platforms including iOS, Android, Facebook, and the Internet.
Dobango offers merchant partners the means to engage with new and existing customers on a continual basis on terms that are "win-win." Frankly, I’ve not always heard that other deal companies are doing business on a "win-win" basis, so, that is attractive in today’s marketplace.
Dobango play2Win is the new suite of tournament-style games developed by Dobango for the web, iPhone, and other mobile devices. These short, addictive games attract a large number of players to participate in tournaments throughout the day. Leader boards and standings within social networks like Facebook make the games challenging and fun.
Players come back again and again, invariably pulling their friends along. Dobango play2Win games reward players with real-world products and services. Top scorers win free rewards, such as iTunes cash, Amazon gift cards, and gifts from our sponsors. All players get rewarded with discount coupons from local businesses and national retailers.
How Dobango play2Win works:
- Dobango play2Win creates and offers fun games to merchant partners and players
- Lots of people play the games
- Everyone gets a reward
- Rewards are redeemed at the merchant partner’s business
- Merchant partners sponsor more rewards
Dobango signs up merchant partners who offer deals for Dobango players. A player has an opportunity to earn a discount or deal by playing a simple yet fun 30-second game on the web or smartphone. There is no limit to the number of times a game can be played—a player earns the discounts or deal by simply playing a game one time. However, if you win the game by establishing the highest score, you win the reward offered by the merchant. This is key: the games require no specialized skills and are suitable for all ages and genders.
Dobango’s service went live over the 4th of July weekend. As of this writing, Dobango has signed up some 200 Silicon Valley merchant partners. These merchant partners have complete control over when a promotion is offered, what discount or offer they want to make to Dobango play2Win players, and have control over which game a player is invited to play.
Dobango has also negotiated relationships with major merchant partners that as of this writing include: 1-800-Flowers, Chili’s, CVS Pharmacy, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, Barnes & Noble, and the Regal Entertainment Group. Dobango also has the ability to white label its technology and had two takers for that so far.
What are the essential features of the Dobango program:
- During the beta period, there is no charge for merchant partners to participate. A modest monthly fee will be assessed after the beta period. A merchant can discontinue participation at any time.
- Merchant partners determine the offers and rewards—they merely need to tell Dobango how many rewards they want to sponsor and when—Dobango takes care of the rest.
- Tech-savvy merchant partners can customize their offers to sponsor certain games, geographies, user characteristics, in-game ads, rewards, add direct click-throughs to their website, analyze campaign performance, etc. Or, of course, they can secure this assistance from Dobango.
- Awards are given a redemption code. Most awards are redeemed the same day. Rewards do not have cash redemption value and expire within one month unless explicitly prohibited by local and state laws.
- Once a paid model is implemented, Dobango will only be paid after players have redeemed an award.
Here’s what some merchant partners are reporting:
- Dobango is helping us bring in new customers and give them a chance to save money at the same time.
- What we like the technical aspect and the ease of redemption.
- Dobango is simply a different type of offer…you really can’t compare Dobango with other deal companies.
- Dobango is helping us by bringing more traffic to our business by making it fun for our customers to try out our business.
- Dobango is fun, it is effective, this is a very cost effective marketing vehicle for us.
- We prefer Dobango over other sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, because Dobango has helped bring in higher quality customers that are more likely to come back rather than clients looking for one time low-ball deals, who are not likely to become repeat customers.
As mentioned previously, a player can either play2Win on the web at Dobango.com or through an iPhone app. Soon, players will have access via Android smartphones. Here’s what some players (pictured right at Play2Win street fair booth in Sunnyvale, Calif.) are reporting:
- I like the involvement of national retailers. Anyone can play, no matter their location in the US.
- Dobango helps me save money in today's tough economy on things I want and need.
- What I like about Dobango is the concept for bringing special offers from local companies to users of the play2win application.
- Dobango not only lists all the latest offers but offers the capabilities to search by categories and to show their location on a map.
Sounds like a win-win indeed.
Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker and blogger who resides in Silicon Valley. His firm helps clients eliminate business execution issues that threaten profitable and sustainable growth. He can be reached through his website at www.gardnerandassoc.com or via Twitter @Gardner_Dave