Jeffrey Spry’s big idea started with an ice cream sundae.
While celebrating a birthday dinner with his wife at Red Lobster, a waitress brought Spry a free dessert.
“They brought out this huge sundae, which was awesome,” Spry said. “I said, ‘I bet you can get stuff like this everywhere for free.’”
Giving customers discounts, free food or gifts on their birthdays has long been a staple of restaurants and businesses. But Spry, whose background is in advertising, found that companies weren’t taking full advantage of the marketing potential of the freebies, especially in the Internet age.
So he launched birthdayfreebies.com late last year.
“The goal is to have a paradigm shift in how birthdays are marketed,” he said.
Birthdayfreebies.com allows members to search a catalog of birthday deals from local and national businesses. Most of the deals come from restaurants (a free appetizer or dessert), but Spry said any business can take advantage to try to attract customers.
The website is free for merchants and customers to use.
Although the goods businesses give away are free, taking part in the giveaways can help boost a company’s bottom line.
“People travel in groups on birthdays, and they tend to spend more money,” Spry said. “It’s a wonderful way to engage with customers.”
Birthdayfreebies.com has almost 100,000 members and lists thousands of deals across the country. It offers local deals in 11 cities, including Las Vegas, but plans to expand to about 40 more markets, Spry said.
Spry works from Minnesota, but birthdayfreebies.com’s investors are from Las Vegas, and the company is headquartered locally. It employs about 10 workers.
“Vegas is such a big entertainment hub, we thought: What better place to have it?” Spry said.
Local birthday deals include a free piece of cake at Stripburger, free fried ice cream at Pink Taco and a free cupcake at Sugar Factory.
Birthdayfreebies.com is still trying to monetize its user base, Spry said. He hopes to do that as the site expands by selling advertising to businesses.
Spry sees birthdayfreebies.com as an alternative to daily deal sites such as Groupon, which can be a hassle to manage for customers and don’t always provide a return on investment for companies.
“What birthdayfreebies.com does is allow you to do better deals for the consumers because you’re not inundated with everybody coming through the door wielding a coupon,” Spry said.