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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