Wake Up Call

Mirth Wants to Be the Groupon Killer

Mirth, which announced its existence at TechCrunch's Disrupt NYC convention, bills itself as a business-friendly alternative to deal programs like Groupon and LivingSocial. A Mirth account is attached to your credit card and automatically recognizes when you've gone to an establishment twice in a single month. This makes you a regular and you get a 3 percent discount on your future bills, as long as you keep going at least twice a month to keep up your "regular" status.

The angle is that this model will relieve businesses from all the one-time traffic they get when people bum-rush them with Groupon deals. Mirth clearly is trying to cater to businesses and is hoping consumers might want to come along for the ride.

Are you unconscious yet? Let's take a look at why this yawn-worthy idea seems doomed to fail.

1. The basic problem with Mirth is that it sounds about as exciting as merging a coffee shop punch card with your credit card's instant-reward program. 2. It's a license for businesses to spam you, ostensibly with exclusive offers and pertinent information, but don't we already get at least half of that equation through Facebook? 3. The alternatives sounds so much cooler: Toodalu: Same as Mirth but when you eat out, you get 5 percent credited to your card and have 5 percent donated to a charitable cause of your choice. Mogl: You get 10 percent credited to you, bills over $20 trigger a meal donation to the needy and you compete with fellow diners to win a "jackpot" at the places you eat at. So it's like earning a dukedom on Yelp but with an actual payout.

Now both of these companies are following the Yelp model and rolling out in geographically limited areas. Mogl is restricted to California and Toodalu to Chicago. Presumably they'll start expanding when and if their ideas find a foothold. But don't those sound a wee bit more exciting than getting a 3 percent discount and spam from the businesses you frequent?

Of course, it's more than possible that both Mogl and Toodalu might be completely unsustainable and will collapse under the weight of their extraordinary claims. But at least when they fold up they'll be able to say they fed thousands of homeless and donated money to charity.

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Ando Muneno
Contact: Ando Muneno