Cheap Cupcakes for Charity: Mediabistro Startups Takes a Tour of with CEO Tim Niedel

Founded in Naples, FL and launched in June 2010, MyEZdeal is a daily deal site with a philanthropic twist: for every discount voucher that is sold, part of the proceeds will benefit a local charity. Yesterday CEO Tim Niedel explained to us why and how he jumped on the group discount band wagon.

“I’m an old ad guy,” Niedel said. For 25 years he worked in television, radio, publishing and trade shows before he left the advertising industry in 2001 to start a company called Magic Tan, which manufactures sunless tanning systems used in salons nationwide. “I did very well with that,” he said ($40M per year, according to his bio), but in 2008 he unloaded his share to pursue a promising business model that was already working for companies like Groupon and LivingSocial. “Somebody showed me this and coming from an advertising background I looked at it and said, this is brilliant,” Niedel explained.
Niedel and his partners funded the venture on their own, and Niedel said he was surprised by how much it cost to get started. “The technical side of it can take a lot of money,” Niedel said. “And of course, when you hire people, they want to be paid. I don’t know why, but they do.” In all seriousness, Niedel believes in hiring at least one full-time employee in every market to negotiate the best local deals.
Getting the site going has been “very complicated to do,” Niedel admitted. ” It looks easy when you look at it – I looked at it and said, ‘this looks easy’ – but it’s not. ” Niedel does not come from a technical background and relies on his development team to handle the back end of the site’s functionality. Niedel feels his site is “as good” as what’s currently out there, and at first glance, his assessment is correct. It has the look and feel of similar websites and is just as easy to navigate.

What separates Niedel from his competitors, he said, is that “we have a non-profit philosophy. Our company isn’t non-profit, but for every deal that you see on the website you can be sure that a non-profit organization will get the benefit. It’s really a win-win situation.” Listed next to the description of each deal are the local charities that will benefit from the purchase, with a link to their websites.
One of today’s discounts is a $30 voucher for cupcakes from Bliss Bakeshop in Portland, OR. Sold for $15, the proceeds will benefit the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, the Beaverton Education Foundation, and the Lake Oswego School District Foundation.
With the site currently in Beta testing, what’s missing in most of the other cities are the deals. Between now and September the myEZdeal team will expand the service to 31 markets. Cleveland, Columbus, Nashville and Portland already launched, with New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. scheduled for August 6th. “We’ve had the Cleveland site up as kind of a punching bag for us to throw stuff at it and see what happens,” Niedel said. “We want to be in every state.”
When asked if he would consider pairing with a newspaper like McClatchy’s deal with Groupon, Niedel said he doesn’t believe that his site’s demographic, who are between the ages of 18 and 40, still read the newspaper. But if a self-proclaimed “old ad guy” is using the internet, anything can happen.