BidMob iPhone App Offers Great New Haven Dining Deals, Discounts

The BidMob logo.

The BidMob logo.

Let’s say it’s a cold and post-snowy afternoon in New Haven and you’ve had enough of hibernating. Cabin fever is taking over. It’s time to go out, reconnect with the city’s sea of happening places and people.

But where to go? It is winter, after all, and there is an Arctic freeze on. No time to be expansive, to splurge. Save that for spring.

A deal would be nice—somewhere warm with good food and libations, and with a deal to sweeten the appeal.

How to get that intel? Scan newspaper ads, wishful Googling? Bouncing around websites of names you know or remember as hotspots?

Way too much work, and, with the advent of the iPhone app BidMob, it’s hardly necessary.

The brainchild of Daniel Underkofler, who had been working at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Manhattan, and his “team of socially-inspired Gladsters,” BidMob is a mobile app that—quite simply but brilliantly—connects anyone interested in dining and nightlife in New Haven with the best deals of the day.

“BidMob is an amazing new way to save BIG $$ for your group when you go out. Stop paying for discounts, printing coupons or wondering where the best deals are when you need them,” says the description in the Apple app store. (Underkofler, left, in a photo by Lucy McClure)

“… BidMob was born April 11th, 2013, and upon showing its shiny face, it muttered its first words: 'Make small events special. Make big nights happen.' As such, our mission to parent this idea, spreading joy through incredible deals, was ignited on that glorious day,” reads part of the About Us description on the BidMob website.

“It’s doing great. We’re getting a lot of hits on it,” Underkofler said this week of BidMob version 2.0. In the initial rollout, the app endeavored to have folks who were planning to go out post details of their party and preferences, and then have restaurants and venues “bid on” the group by presenting a perk, or offer.

A great idea, it proved just a bit tangled and inside-out given the human nature of advance planning and shifting plans—things that certainly come into play in a major college town with lots of young people whose priorities and desires can change on a dime.

So BidMob was reworked, and now it works exactly the way people do: You download the app, which is free, easy and quick, and then you instantly see the vital information—today’s deals.

On Jan. 22, for example, Madden’s Gastropub was offering a free bottle of champagne and a free appetizer from 5 to 10 p.m. to groups of 10 to 20.

Thai Food Express was offering a free entrée to groups that purchased six entrees. Marco Polo Pizza and Italian offered groups of 8 to 15 that were dining in 15 percent off the bill.

Christopher Martins tempted groups of that same size with a $50 credit toward wine as long as six dinner entrees were ordered.

Oaxaca Kitchen said all drinks were half-price and 10 percent would be shaved off the bill for groups of 7 to 15 from 4 to 7 p.m.

And the list of deals rolled on; all that’s needed to take advantage of a deal is hitting a bar that says “take the deal.”

“People really want speed and ease of use,” Underkofler says, and BidMob is fast and easy.


The appeal of BidMob for both those using the app and restaurants and businesses on the other side is obvious.

If you’re planning to go out, why pay full price anywhere if a couple of minutes on BidMob will connect you with a satisfying option that includes a discount or giveaway? After all, if a group of 8 students walks into a restaurant for dinner and drinks, the manager is unlikely to simply say, “Greetings, folks, we’re going to give you a free bottle of wine.”

As for the restaurants, planning and human nature also come into play, along with other factors.

For one thing, BidMob is a vehicle likely to bring in more customers than might arrive otherwise. How? Let’s say you and three friends want to go out to dinner and you scan BidMob’s deals. It’s a safe bet, based on the examples above, that one of them will sound terrific enough that you recruit a few more friends to come along, in order to meet the group size required for the deal—and thus the restaurant expands its business for the night, thanks to BidMob.

Getting a sense of how many people will be walking through the door on a given night, and at what time, helps the restaurants plan, and then there’s the human nature part: Anyone getting a great deal will be happy, and happy guests indulge those good feelings by, say, ordering a second bottle of wine because the mood is so bright, or opting for the higher priced entrée in that same spirit.

BidMob is one of those proverbial win-win situations, which Underkofler and his partners hope to turn into a win (app user), win (restaurants), win (the BidMob team) through growth and maximization of the business model.

While BidMob is focused solely on New Haven at this point, the plan is to expand it to Fairfield County, then likely Hartford, and beyond.

And while the app is limited to Apple platforms for now, “We’re optimistic that we can expand that and get on the Android platform,” Underkofler says.

In addition, the programming is in place so that websites—say that of a newspaper or magazine—can load the BidMob widget on their home page, as a way of presenting great local deals to that site’s audience.

“That’s really something that’s not being done,” says Underkofler. “We’re really excited about that.”

Over lunch a while ago at the New Haven Lawn Club, Underkofler explained while he was serving institutional clients at JP Morgan, he increasingly thought “it would be great to create something.”

The idea of friends getting together often to go out and the target-rich geography of New Haven—both in terms of the volume of people going out and the volume of venues to choose from—helped shape the structure of BidMob, and the fact that no effective and easy interface existed to link guests and venues sealed the startup’s form.

So head to the Apple app store, search for BidMob, download it for free in less than a minute, and start taking advantage of the great New Haven dining scene—at a discount and with savory, sweet extras thrown in.

See the BidMob website for more information and details.


BidMob iPhone App Offers Great New Haven Dining Deals, Discounts

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