Lantern launches Android app to help consumers find deals
Lantern launched today with the aim of helping users find things around them that they couldn't find before — namely, deals. Lantern, which is now live in Google Play, has a unique spin on how merchants divvy out coupons and how Lantern users can cash those coupons in for huge savings. Unlike many daily deal services, Lantern doesn't require users to pay anything up-front to reserve vouchers for deals. Meanwhile, it lets merchants control the amount, quantity and timing of their deals.
Aaron Sloup, one of the co-founders of Kansas City-based Lantern, flirted the idea at Startup Weekend Kansas City in April 2011. The original idea was aimed at automating how restaurant waitlists work. But, after taking time to think things over, Sloup and his three co-founders found a more interesting problem. Creating a coupon exchange product for merchants to customize and consumers to save. By September 2011, the group had formed a corporation and started building Lantern.
Before Lantern's launch, I exchanged emails with Sloup (left) about the product.
Silicon Prairie News: What inspired the idea?
Aaron Sloup: Lantern in its current form was inspired by some bad Groupon experiences. My wife bought a Groupon for Pierponts, I think, and wanted to use it that evening. She didn't realize we couldn't get our voucher until the next day. On one for a different restaurant, we paid the $20 for the voucher and printed it off the next day, but we forgot about it until it had expired. On a third one, we showed up at a place that didn't take reservations, only to find out that it was a two-hour wait because everyone else with a Groupon did the same thing. All these bad experiences got me thinking there had to be a better way. I wanted to get those vouchers for free, and I wanted to use them instantly. Making a smartphone app was a natural choice for how to do that. The cool part is our model works really well for businesses too, because we can help them attract new customers anytime or help them draw in customers at specific times both for only $0.99/customer.
SPN: Is Lantern looking for investment?
AS: We've actually been approached by a couple local investors, but we're growing organically right now. We're definitely considering investment as an option to scale up quickly and are weighing that against giving up a percentage of the company.
SPN: Any future milestones approaching you'd like to share?
AS: Definitely. Our Android app is ready to go, so we're actively engaging the community in KC to help us launch Lantern here. Once we have 1,000 people sign up on our website (lanternsoftware.com), we'll send out an announcement and launch on Android. 3,000 and we'll launch on iPhone.
SPN: Anything else you like to add?
AS: Everyone's been really supportive along the way, and we're thankful for that. There's that old adage that it takes a village to raise a child; I think startups are much the same way. It takes a community supporting something like this to really bring it to fruition - we're just excited to have that support and ready to get Lantern into the hands of our first users
To learn more about Lantern, see the short introductory video below.