Penn Alum's Startup Makes Buying Local Cheaper
March 3, 2014, 9:23 pm · Updated March 4, 2014, 2:56 am·
With a new startup, the discounts stack up as you add items to your cart.
Called Packagd , the startup provides online deals for local services like massages, pet sitting and oil changes. Launched in December of 2013 by Jeremy Elser, who received a doctorate in Bioengineering in 2012, Packagd is different from services like Groupon and LivingSocial because as users add purchases to their cart, the cost of each service decreases.
Packagd also differs from competitors because of its vendor policy. “We are less brutal to vendors. We don’t cut into their pockets as deep. We want vendors to be sustainable at the deal cuts they are offering. That’s why people who would have never entertained Groupon or LivingSocial will work with us,” Elser said.
There are currently six businesses offering deals on their website, packagd.com.
Part of Elser’s motivation in starting Packagd comes from his childhood. “My parents owned a small electronics store and it was hard to compete with the bigger guys. I want to help local businesses compete with larger companies,” Elser said.
Packagd is also a product of Elser’s entrepreneurial spirit. During the summer of his sophomore year in college, Elser teamed up with his brother and entered the real estate market. He bought a small house, renovated it and then rented it out. “The first led to the second, which led to the third,” Elser said. He even built a website to automate data analysis in order to understand the best areas to buy real estate.
Elser currently works at the Boston Consulting Group during the week and dedicates time to Packagd on the weekends. “However, if it becomes successful, we will start making full time commitments,” he said.
He is also currently working on making improvements to the Packagd website and getting more vendors on board. Packagd participated in the Penn Start-Up Fair this February and Elser is working on bringing people onto the team in part-time and internship roles.
Currently most of the vendors are in Center City “because it has the highest density of local businesses,” but Elser said they are working on expanding to other parts of Philadelphia like University City.
"We are definitely going as fast as we can to reach vendors in the regional areas," he said.