Last weekend, RetailMeNot partnered with 3 Day Startup to host university students at the company’s headquarters in Austin with the goal of fostering disruptive innovation in digital couponing and commerce.
Students armed with insider market data and support from RetailMeNot mentors aimed to create startups that could ultimately partner with or be acquired by the industry giant. Students focused their efforts on creating new types of offers, new distribution and redemption channels and better services for RetailMeNot’s merchant partners.
Matt Howitt, Senior Vice President of Engineering at RetailMeNot, said that the company wanted to engage student entrepreneurs from 3 Day Startup because RetailMeNot is committed to innovation, “We are excited to get new ears, eyes and brains chewing on the next big opportunities in this space.”
Over the course of the weekend, students built prototypes and validated their ideas by talking to potential customers. On Sunday evening, 30 university students piled into the company’s board room to pitch their startups to RetailMeNot executives, including CEO and Founder, Cotter Cunningham.
Kaoru Fujita, MBA student at The University of Texas, pitched Abuelita, a budgeting app for groceries powered by SMS. In his pitch, Fujita noted that low income families are four times less likely to use coupons than affluent families. “We want to increase the buying power of low income families and create a solution using technology that is accessible to this segment,” he said.
Other pitches and demos focused on big industry trends in commerce, such as hyperlocal, as well as new distribution platforms for coupons and deals.
Cam Houser, CEO of 3 Day Startup, said the weekend at RetailMeNot was the second program hosted inside of a company. Last year, 3 Day Startup partnered with HomeAway, the industry leader in vacation rentals. 3DS is planning a corporate-focused program once a semester, and is in talks with future partners.
The model of collaboration between big company and young entrepreneurs has been successful. After 3 Day Startup’s first corporate-focused program at HomeAway, alumnus company Compare Metrics, raised $775,000 in early stage investment.
To date, 3 Day Startup alumni have started 39 companies that have collectively raised over $10 million in funding, and 21 companies and alumni have been accepted to tech accelerators including Y Combinator, TechStars, 500 Startups and Capital Factory.