Ozmott News and Press Releases

Have you checked out these three small NW Michigan businesses?

ozmott_002None of these Northwest Michigan businesses were operating in 2010, but all three have already made a big splash in the region.

Compared to the southeastern Michigan and the Grand Rapids area, our corner of Michigan takes a decidedly low-key approach to business. From the thriving wineries of the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas to the restaurants and shops in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Traverse City, many local businesses have roots in the tourism and leisure industries. Others provide the basic services and logistical support necessary to keep our communities running smoothly.

On closer inspection, the picture is much more exciting. From the Mackinac Bridge to Sleeping Bear Dunes, local entrepreneurs are slowly but surely lining up the building blocks of an economic transformation, and communities across Northwest Michigan–and beyond–stand to benefit. Let’s take a look at three local businesses to keep your eye on.

LeaseMaid: First Harbor Springs, Then the World
Up in Harbor Springs, a hot new startup incubator called Coolhouse Labs isn’t even done with its second season. Coolhouse solicits applications from entrepreneurs and early-stage startups for its intensive summer incubator program. In exchange for 6% equity, it gives each participant $25,000 in seed money and provides 12 weeks of free housing, a dedicated workspace in its facility, and access to several dozen tech industry thought leaders. Last summer, Coolhouse graduated five promising startups from around the country; this summer, it has another ambitious group.

One of the standouts is LeaseMaid, a real estate startup with roots in the Chicago area. As a young gun in the competitive real estate brokerage business there, founder Nate Kroll grew increasingly frustrated with the time-consuming apartment rental process. He came up with the idea for an app that relieves landlords of many tedious duties, including receiving rental applications, running background checks, preparing disclosures and lease agreements, collecting deposits, and billing established tenants.

The decision to partner with Coolhouse was “a no-brainer,” says Kroll. “My family has a small cabin in the northwoods of Wisconsin where I spent summers growing up–You mean you’re going to give me $25,000 to work on my dream and we get to spend the summer up in the northwoods? Done.”

Most Coolhouse startups pack up and leave town at the end of the summer, but not LeaseMaid. Kroll’s “up north” roots have endeared him to Harbor Springs, and he doesn’t plan on moving anytime soon. He’ll be renting a house in town this fall, then ramping up recruitment and adding to his six-person team next spring and summer. LeaseMaid has already made waves in the Chicago market, and “we have letters of intent signed from managers in Michigan, Indiana, and New York,” he says. To keep up LeaseMaid’s momentum, Kroll needs to add several web developers and business development specialists in 2015.

What makes him so sure LeaseMaid will take off? Unlike its direct competitors, Kroll’s app is completely free for landlords. LeaseMaid earns its revenue from the application and credit card processing fees that property management companies already charge current and prospective tenants. And the company works with everyone from independent landlords who rent out mother-in-law suites to management companies with thousand-unit apartment buildings in major cities.

For the immediate future, Kroll plans to build LeaseMaid’s account network–and “providing a solution to the paper problem,” as he puts it–from his base in Harbor Springs. But as the company grows, he’s open to forming partnerships that broaden its portfolio of services, creating new streams of revenue–and possibly creating even more jobs right here in Northwest Michigan. He cites a just-inked partnership with State Farm, through which LeaseMaid will offer renters’ insurance, and hopes to “partner with many other great companies down the road.”

Ozmott: Succeeding Where Others Failed
Just down the Lake Michigan shore, near the heart of Traverse City, another tech startup aims to make waves in the ever-fluid social deals space. Ozmott, the brainchild of T.C. native Joseph Walker, aims to succeed where Groupon and Living Social can fall short, and incentivize shoppers to spend more money with the company’s retail partners. 

Walker founded the company in 2012, developed a proprietary app, and went live just last year. The eight-person company now has about 10,000 retail partners from coast to coast. It’s “just about to move into phase two,” says Walker, launching a nationwide marketing campaign that will lean heavily on endorsements from “influencers” and social media shares from early-adopting consumers.

Walker says the inspiration for Ozmott came from two distinct experiences. The first was his hard-won ascension (on Foursquare) to the mayoralty of his favorite coffee shop. Though proud of his accomplishment, he was miffed by the fact that he didn’t get anything tangible for it. So he hatched an idea for a location-based app that rewarded consumers for patronizing participating businesses.

Soon thereafter, following an epic binge-playing session, he beat Fallout 3, accumulating thousands of points in the process. But like the mayoralty of the coffee shop, these points didn’t actually mean anything. In a flash of brilliance, Walker decided to combine his idea for patron rewards with loyalty points that confer merchandise and service discounts on frequent shoppers–and those who share offers with their friends. 

“We want to strike a balance between what’s useful for shoppers and what’s useful for merchants,” says Walker, noting that Groupon, Living Social and other “daily deal” models ask merchants for too much without offering any guarantee that participating shoppers will remain loyal. In fact, many shoppers “hop” between such deals without forming lasting relationships with retail partners. Ozmott works “within the traditional retail model,” says Walker, creating incentives for shoppers who regularly redeem its offers. It’s a win-win: Shoppers get more for less, and mechants get more overall.

Ozmott is already available in every region of the country, though Michigan and neighboring states have the highest concentration of participating retailers. The app is particularly popular with hardware stores, sporting goods shops, and other merchants with large, dynamic inventories of physical goods. Soon, Ozmott plans on leveraging Apple’s iBeacon technology, a sort of indoor GPS that’s currently in beta testing, to offer opportunistic in-store deals. Walker wants to use iBeacon to create seamless shopping experiences: Users walk into a store, get a deal alert on their phone, find the product on the shelf, pay with a stored credit card, and walk out–all without visiting a checkout station.

But Walker isn’t content with transforming the retail business. Long-term, he’d like Traverse City to become the Northland’s premier tech hub; “a mini Palo Alto,” without the snobbery, he says. The area is blessed with world-class beauty, recreational resources, great quality of life and low living costs. All it needs is a “kernel”–a company, or cluster of companies, like Ozmott–to attract tech talent. Walker cites Zappo founder Tony Hsieh’s success in transforming North Las Vegas, a downtrodden suburb of Sin City, into one of the country’s top destinations for ambitious young techies. (“The city looks like Wired Magazine designed it,” he says.)

Brewery Ferment: Small and Loving It
Residents of an increasingly vibrant Traverse City are sure to crave new sensory experiences, and Brewery Ferment wants to provide them. Co-owners Carly Anderson, Kirsten Jones and brother Dustin Jones–the brewery’s “head of fermentology”–lived in Chicago before relocating to Traverse City, seduced by its stunning landscapes and easy pace of life. 

“The craft beer scene in Traverse City hadn’t grown to what is is today when we decided to open,” says Kirsten Jones, “but the great community and natural beauty made the decision easy.” It helped that the Joneses spent their childhood in the area–in a way, Brewery Ferment’s opening was something of a homecoming for them.

Brewery Ferment takes a different tack than many other Northern Michigan breweries, offering small-batch brews with a heavy influence on unusual flavors and local ingredients. For instance, Lil Nug IPA is a session beer with all-local Nugget hops, Cat’s Meyarrow is a honey ale with local catnip, and Medical Grade Mitten Wit is a potent, little-seen Imperial Belgian made with sour yeast.

The three operate out of a small brewery and taproom space in Old Town Traverse City. The location doesn’t have much expansion potential, and the one-barrel system allows Dustin to focus on experimental beers that might get lost in the shuffle at larger breweries. But future expansion plans are on the table, especially if Brewery Ferment is able to secure a lease on another property in town. But the current taproom is definitely the heart of the operation.

“We’ve discussed upgrading our brewing system or utilizing an off-site brewing facility to increase production, while maintaining our flagship location and taproom,” says Kirsten. There aren’t any concrete plans, though, and maintaining the quality of the product is paramount. Anderson and the Joneses still do the bulk of the work onsite, although they have a taproom employee who helps out during open hours.

And thanks to recent changes to Michigan’s alcohol distribution laws, the three owners have plans to implement a self-distribution operation, potentially reaching drinkers in outlying areas of Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties. “[The law] will be beneficial for festivals, beer pairing events and speciality beers being served at certain locations,” says Kirsten.

For now, Brewery Ferment is excited to be part of a close-knit brewing community that looks out for its own. It’s just one more thing that makes our neck of the woods special–and polishes its reputation as a lifestyle destination. “[We view ourselves as] bringing Traverse City more recognition for being a great beer destination town….each brewery has their own niche, their own vibe, and it’s great to have customers experience different types of breweries all in one area,” says Kirsten. “We view the other brewers as comrades rather than competitors.”

Brian Martucci writes about business, finance, food, drink and anything else that catches his fancy. You can find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci

Free app offering new deals throughout GR and Holland

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – March 7, 2014 Traverse City, Michigan-based mobile shopping platform, Ozmott, is growing rapidly and expanding into new cities! Shop, share and indulge while you save big all over GR and the surrounding area!

With its built-in loyalty system, the more friends who use Ozmott with you, the more rewards you get.

Users can experience all kinds of in-store discount offers, redeemed with a tap on an Apple or Android mobile devices. When an offer is redeemed, it’s automatically shared with the shopper’s Ozmott using friends, right through the app. For each friend an offer is shared with the shopper is rewarded with “Pips” – Ozmott’s free, virtual currency. Pips are used to unlock bigger and bigger “Luxe” offer deals. The free app can be used at over 8,500 local and national retailers and service-based businesses.

With a heavy presence in Grand Rapids, Ozmott is thrilled to be expanding their reach to neighboring communities like Holland. Just recently adding a slew of new merchants to the app including: West Michigan Bike and Fitness, Michigan Pantry, The Gaming Warehouse, Tikal, Sandcastles Toy Store, Reliable Sports & Billiards, Coast 3 and Newbs. Recent additions in Grand Rapids include: Bloop, Minds in Motion and Minty Keen. Ozmott celebrates “real” shopping, encouraging consumers to shop in-store and support local merchants.

Great deals today and more tomorrow, so download Ozmott from iTunes or Google+ and save as you shop, share and indulge!

For more information please call Matt Lapham at (231) 883-9812.

Free app offering new deals throughout Grand Rapids and Rockford, Michigan

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – February 14, 2014
Traverse City, Michigan-based mobile shopping platform, Ozmott, is growing rapidly and expanding into new cities! App users should be on the lookout for deals all over southwest Michigan. There hasn’t been a better time to shop, share, and indulge in the GR area!

With its built-in loyalty system, the more friends who use Ozmott with you, the more rewards you get.

Users can experience all kinds of in-store discount offers, redeemed with a tap on an Apple or Android mobile devices. When an offer is redeemed, it’s automatically shared with the shopper’s Ozmott using friends, right through the app. For each friend an offer is shared with the shopper is rewarded with “Pips” – Ozmott’s free, virtual currency. Pips are used to unlock bigger and bigger “Luxe” offer deals. The free app can be used at over 8,500 local and national retailers and service-based businesses.

With a heavy presence in Grand Rapids, Ozmott is thrilled to be expanding their reach to neighboring communities like Rockford. Just recently adding a slew of Rockford merchants to the app including: Right at Home, Bow Dacious Designs, The Tailors, Sassy Pants, A Cut A Head Salon, Snap Fitness, Aunt Candy’s Toy Company and Ace Hardware. Recent additions in Grand Rapids include: Crossfit Grand Rapids, Cakabakery, and Bang Blow Dry Bar. Ozmott celebrates “real” shopping, encouraging consumers to shop in-store and support local merchants.

Great deals today and more tomorrow, so download Ozmott from iTunes or Google+ and save as you shop, share and indulge!

For more information please call Matt Lapham at (231) 883-9812.

About Ozmott:

Ozmott is a mobile platform built to connect retail merchants with consumers through a virtual, fully functional economy. The application relies on a sustainable deals model that allows consumers to take advantage of in-demand, merchant- supplied offers. Popularized by websites such as Groupon and Living Social, daily deal sites have seen increased growth over the past few years. Yet Ozmott is different. Where most sites rely on individual purchases to unlock group deals, Ozmott aims to create a community; where users interact, make friends and gain access to ‘Luxe Offers’. By introducing their own brand of virtual currency, or Pips, Ozmott users are encouraged to share deals with their friends to earn additional Pips where they later can be applied toward otherwise out of reach high- end lifestyle products. www.ozmott.com.

App Offering Free Tickets to the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – January 31, 2014
Traverse City, Michigan-based mobile shopping platform, Ozmott, is excited to announce their recent partnership with the Grand Rapids Civic Threatre and their joint effort to give away 2 free tickets to the upcoming performance of Les Miserables. Now through February 25, app users can enter the contest by redeeming the offer through the Ozmott app. Just the tap of a finger will also give users an opportunity to receive deals on other tickets at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

The free app allows users to receive deals from over 8,500 other local and national retailers and service- based businesses as well. Ozmott also delivers cool perks for user loyalty! When redeeming and sharing deals, Ozmott users are rewarded with “Pips” – Ozmott’s free, virtual currency that can be redeemed for “Luxe” offer deals.

With this built-in loyalty system, the more friends you have the more rewards you get. Ozmott celebrates “real” shopping, encouraging consumers to shop in-store and support local merchants. Users can experience all kinds of in-store discount offers, redeemed with a touch of the screen on Apple and Android devices.

Deals today and more tomorrow, so download Ozmott today from iTunes or Google+ and save as you shop, share and indulge!

For more information about Ozmott or the partnership please call Matt Lapham at (231) 883-9812.

Ozmott releases new Android version of its free mobile discount marketing application

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – January 24, 2014

Shopping just got even more fun!  Traverse City, Michigan-based mobile shopping platform, Ozmott, is excited to announce the recent update for Android.   The update was launched January 20, 2014 and will provide users with new features that make the app more user-friendly.  The update includes new Facebook integration that will allow users to connect their Ozmott account with their Facebook account, allowing them to quickly create and sign into Ozmott through Facebook.  Users will also be able to share their offers through Facebook making is easier than ever to earn rewards and take advantage of the biggest deals!

With new merchants joining Ozmott weekly there are always new ways to save!  Don’t be left out of the fun, join the club today, and discover Ozmazing offers at the tap of your finger!

The free app allows users to receive deals from over 8,000 other local and national retailers and service-based businesses. Ozmott also delivers cool perks for user loyalty! When redeeming and sharing deals, Ozmott users are rewarded with “Pips” – Ozmott’s free, virtual currency that can be redeemed for “Luxe offer deals.

With this built-in loyalty system, the more friends you have the more rewards you get.  Ozmott celebrates “real” shopping, encouraging consumers to shop in-store and support local merchants. Users can experience all kinds of in-store discount offers, redeemed with a touch of the screen on Apple and Android devices.

Deals today and more tomorrow, so download Ozmott today from iTunes or Google+ and save as you shop, share and indulge!

For more information about Ozmott or the partnership please call Matt Lapham at (231) 883-9812.

 

About Ozmott:

Ozmott is a mobile platform built to connect retail merchants with consumers through a virtual, fully functional economy. The application relies on a sustainable deals model that allows consumers to take advantage of in-demand, merchant- supplied offers. Popularized by websites such as Groupon and Living Social, daily deal sites have seen increased growth over the past few years. Yet Ozmott is different. Where most sites rely on individual purchases to unlock group deals, Ozmott aims to create a community; where users interact, make friends and gain access to ‘Luxe Offers’. By introducing their own brand of virtual currency, or Pips, Ozmott users are encouraged to share deals with their friends to earn additional Pips where they later can be applied toward otherwise out of reach high- end lifestyle products.  For more information, visit our website at www.ozmott.com

Shopping app concentrates growth

Nike Nichols writes in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, “A mobile shopping app is fanning across Grand Rapids.” Read the full article here.

TV: Ozmott app makes holiday shopping in GR easier

“GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- Shopping in the holiday season can be stressful with heavy traffic and crowds in the stores, not to mention driving in bad weather.

“Ozmott is a new app for your smartphone that makes Holiday Shopping easier.

“The locally created app gives you deals and rewards when shopping online.

“Joe Walker the creator of Ozmott stopped by our Weekend Morning News to share more.”

Watch the video here.

TV: “Michigan Based Shopping App Unveiled”

In a tv news segment on Fox 17 West Michigan, CEO Joseph Walker gives a tour of Ozmott.

See video & read article.

 

“Shortest holiday shopping season in 11 years puts pressure on retailers, shoppers”

In an article in MLive, Shandra Martinez writes:

Joseph Walker thinks his new shopping app, Ozmott, offers a new and better way to bring retailers and consumers together.

Read the full article.