Groupon clone of the day: Tippr

Faith Merino · December 19, 2010 · Short URL:

Tippr's impressive array of patents reveals a unique group-buying strategy

Today’s Groupon clone of the day is Tippr, which emerged in February 2010 with an impenetrable net of patents and has already acquired two companies. 

The site differs ever-so-slightly from other group buying sites in that it offers not one, but three deals per city each day, and the company claims that its “Tippsters,” or on-the-ground scouts, have bought every single item featured on Tippr’s page to ensure top quality. 

So what’s up with all the patents?  Tippr got its start within the software company Kashless, a local marketplace solutions provider.  In February, Martin Tobias, CEO of Kashless, purchased the patent portfolio of Mercata, a former group buying company that allowed shoppers to unite to buy items in bulk for a discount.  Unfortunately, Mercata was too ahead of its time and went bankrupt in 2001, leaving behind its portfolio of IP patents.

The intellectual property patents go as far back as 1997 and cover things like price optimization, demand curve modeling, and buyer-seller interaction models.  

The idea, according to Tobias, is to build up strong IP to give the company a leg-up in the collective buying space.  It was Tippr’s array of patents that allowed it to acquire FanForce in June.   “They realized what they were doing was covered by my patents,” Tobias told Xconomy in a June interview. “It’s a great fit, we love the management team. We love their drive. These are serious startup guys.”

The software is targeted at anyone in the publishing business.  In November, Tippr began inviting other collective buying companies, publishers, and social networks to a meeting to be held in December to discuss an “open deal format” that would allow for open exchange of group deal information among deal providers, thereby allowing advertisers to promote deals across multiple platforms to various audiences.  Tippr invited representatives from companies as diverse as AOL, Microsoft, Groupon, Yipit, Facebook, and Google, among others.

The meeting took place on December 15, but so far no word on the outcome. 

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