We like the idea of using corporations as a distribution base for media and services. In the 1990s, The Family Education Network built a great newsletter business distributed in corporate lobbies. The concept’s been widely extended with the addition of email and the ability to more effectively target employees based on different criteria.
NextJump, for instance, has built a business providing discounts and deals sent out as part of employee communications. The deals are generally aggregated from other sources, but it can target the offers based on buying and browsing habits. It takes a commission from sales. The service is free to companies.
Now we’re also looking at San Francisco-based AnyPerk, which shifts the employer shopping model to a premium offering, charging $5 a month per employee. CEO and Founder Taro Fukuyama tells us that the 15-person company — a graduate of Y Combinator — now has 2,500 companies signed up, distributing perks from 250 different marketers. Investors include Andressen Horowitz, SV Angel and a number of individuals, as well as Japanese-based funds .
Fukuyama says that AnyPerk’s goal is to use its volume-buying capability to drive discounts of 5-50 percent. It proves its value as a consumer-centric service from the get-go, rather than serving the interests of merchants. “We do everything we can to save them more than $5 a month” he says.
Typically, customers will start with 15 percent monthly discounts on mobile phones and services and work their way up to other products, specifically monthly utility products such as gyms, video services or rent. There may be 20 things you pay for every month, he says.
Entertainment, especially, stands out. AnyPerk’s top products, in order, are fitness, entertainment, travel and cell phone. Among its perk providers are Verizon, AMC, Redbox, Regal Entertainment Group, Equinox, AT&T, Budget, Zipcar, T-Mobile and LA Fitness.
Fukuyama, a native of Japan, tells us that employer shopping services are common in his homeland, where there are four major companies. But the concept is still relatively new to the U.S.