Pirq raises $1.9 million to dish up more mobile restaurant deals

Seattle entrepreneur James Sun traveled to Silicon Valley to raise cash for his new startup, the mobile coupon site Pirq. But, at the end of the day, it was a venture firm just a few blocks away from the company’s Kirkland headquarters that won Sun’s trust.

Rally Capital, the venture firm led by former Craig McCaw lieutenant Denny Weibling, has led a $1.9 million venture round in the company, GeekWire has learned. The money will be used to roll out a new versions of the mobile app, add more restaurants in Seattle and expand to a new city some time early next year.

“We talked to a lot of VCs down in the Valley and up here as well, and we felt these guys had the right perspective of wireless and software and a long-term perspective of building a business,” Sun tells GeekWire.

Best known for his appearance in Donald Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice,” Sun said they had to turn away investors in the round. If all goes as planned, the entrepreneur is expecting to raise a larger round some time next year, money that he’d use to fuel more growth.

Sun is hoping to have the mobile offering available in about five to seven major markets by the end of 2012.

The service, which competes with Groupon, LivingSocial and other daily deal sites, currently has about 170 restaurants on board in Seattle. Those include Turnpike Pizza, Zoka Coffee, Bombay Grill and others

Pirq is different from the competition since it intelligently schedules deals for off-peak times at restaurants, say early afternoon or late evening. Restaurant managers need not enter a specific time frame to run the deals, with Sun noting that there’s a “brain that manages” when they are busy or when they are not.

Restaurants like that aspect of the app because it gets people into seats during slow times.

“Our business model is working really well, and consumers like the app,” said Sun. “And the vendors really like the yield management program, and now they are really understanding how we are different from the multiple deal sites and applications that are out there…. If you think about it, we have a platform and software solution that helps them to predict their business.”

The company also continues to donate a portion of its proceeds to food banks in King County.

Pirq — a joint venture between Sun’s previous company and Kirkland’s Passport Unlimited – launched in June. The free app is available for both iPhone and Android, with plans to roll out on Windows Phone in the near future.

The startup employs about 30 people, with some of the sales staff also doubling efforts with Passport Unlimited. Some of the new cash will be use to add staffers in mobile development.

“We are definitely not sitting on this money, and organic growth,” said Sun. “But we are looking to take it one step further with our product, an additional market and then really go after the bigger (markets).”

As a result of the financing, Rally Capital’s Weibling and John Duncan have joined the board.

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  • John3

    Boring. Pirq is lame.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

    well done, James!

  • Guest

    Never heard of this investor. They’re definitely not a real VC, probably just some bottom feeder.

    • johnhcook

      I think you are a bit misinformed. Rally Capital has been around for a number of years, participating in Washington state deals such as SinglePoint, TTM, World Wide Packets and Jobvana. They keep a pretty low profile, but that doesn’t make them some “bottom feeder.” 

      They may not be a “real VC” in that I believe most of the money comes from private individuals tied to the McCaw family, rather than institutions. 

      • Anon

        Dumb Money

        • johnhcook

          OK. I’ll bite. Why? At the very least offer some analysis on why you think that way, unless you are of the belief that all VC money is “dumb money.” I guess we can have that debate too. 

          • http://jobferral.com Stephen Medawar

            John. I hate seeing all these anonymous and guest comments that have no substance to them. The fact that someone posts something anonymously (without being an insider in the company and providing needed context) should completely discredit their comments. People usually say positive comments publicly and use anonymity when they have nothing good to say. 

            Listen to your mothers: If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all [or at least back up your non-existent point].

          • johnhcook

            Agreed. We are an open forum here, and we do allow anonymous comments, and I think those have a place at times. 

            I considered deleting the comments above, but felt the commenters may actually have something of value to say which could help educate the community. I’ll still hold out hope that they will. 

            For the most part, we’ve been extremely pleased with the quality of discussion and debate on GeekWire. Much higher value than my previous experiences managing comment threads. 

            Thanks for the feedback.

          • http://jobferral.com Stephen Medawar

            I agree John. I appreciate that this is an open forum (it’s so anti-SOPA of you guys). The usual value is very high. That’s why this seemed like such a stark contrast. 

        • johnhcook

          OK. I’ll bite. Why? At the very least offer some analysis on why you think that way, unless you are of the belief that all VC money is “dumb money.” I guess we can have that debate too. 

  • jennipher

    Good work James :)

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