It’s the kind of money that restaurant owners would salivate over, and now they’ve got a new way to tout their wares to this desired group of geeks. Pirq, the Kirkland mobile app maker, today is announcing a partnership to bring an exclusive set of restaurant deals to Apple employees in Silicon Valley.
The arrangement marks the arrival of Pirq in the Bay Area, an interesting marketing strategy since the discounts won’t be made available to the general public until later this year. The app has been available in Seattle to the general public since last August.
I asked Pirq CEO James Sun, the Seattle entrepreneur best known for his appearance on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, why they decided to launch with Apple first. He said employees of the company are some of the most sought after early-adopters, with a total reach of more than one million people.
“Everyone in the Valley pays attention to what Apple employees endorse,” says Sun. “It’s also a lot easier to sign up restaurants when you can say Apple has agreed to offer this dining app to their employees at work. Every restaurant wants Apple-like employees to come dine with them.”
Apple employees who utilize the Pirq app can earn discounts of 20 percent to 50 percent at more than 45 restaurants in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and Apple’s hometown of Cupertino. It plans to keep adding restaurants, moving north to San Francisco this summer.
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, and consumers simply install the free app to get started, redeeming the deals via a Microsoft Tag at the restaurant.
Sun said that the competition was intense to win Apple, and that they beat out a number of competitors who were vying for the business.
“We are very proud to be approved/selected by Apple’s HR,” he said. Meanwhile, Sun said they are hoping to take a play out of the playbook of another Silicon Valley giant.
“Just as Facebook only allowed certain companies onto the network when it expanded outside of the college market — Microsoft, Deloitte, Google, etc. … it built a pent up demand. We believe this will work the same way,” he said.
Because of the chicken-and-egg problem in the daily deal space, Sun said he thought it was smart to “surgically target” on a geographic and demographic basis in the Valley.
“Many companies have tried to go wide and shallow,” he said. “We are going deep and building a sustainable brand/reputation for the long term.”
Kirkland-based Pirq — a joint venture between Sun’s previous company and Kirkland’s Passport Unlimited — raised $1.9 million from Rally Capital and others last December. Passport Unlimited has provided discounts to Apple for the past six years, with CEO Roger Blier calling them “one of the most intelligent and savvy consumer groups in the world.”
Previously on GeekWire: Ex-star of ‘The Apprentice’ James Sun takes on Groupon with Pirq