The idea that became the 2for1 app started as a solution for student fundraisers, according to 2for1 CTO Calvin Gaisford. Instead of schools purchasing books or cards to take around, they could just display products through an app.

But then the idea grew — what if it became something for the general public? Anybody could use it. At that point, Gaisford was invited to come on and retool the app, creating what it is today.

What makes 2for1 unique from another platform such as Groupon, Gaisford said, is that the offers are created by the companies themselves — not the 2for1 team.

“We don’t go out to (companies) and say ‘hey, we want to do this deal with you.’ We basically give them the ability,” Gaisford said. “They can create as many offers as they want, they can schedule them ... they have full control over what they put on the app.”

Working closely with Gaisford is 2for1 CEO John Cook, who spent over 20 years working for Kroger, most recently as the vice president of HR for one of the company’s divisions. Working for Kroger, Cook said, gave him a love for the retail business and helped him learn what it it takes to create loyal customers. Now he’s happy to be back in Utah working on the Provo-based app.

“There’s a lot of similarities between the grocery retail business and trying to help other retailers who are growing their businesses as well,” Cook said. “I came to bring that type of a corporate experience into a small startup, to try to make sure that we have a broad and big perspective on how we can help other businesses grow and retain their customers.”

Businesses can create any kind of offer they like on the app, which is free to download and simple to use. Consumers can plug in a location they would like to view deals for, then they simply click on an offer and tap “redeem,” showing the redeemed offer to the business when making a purchase. Consumers can also favorite retailers or restaurants they liked, after which the app will send notifications when that retailer or restaurant offers a new deal.

2for1 charges a subscription to businesses for using the app to advertise their offerings, and besides the platform, they’re able to take advantage of analytics that help them understand what kinds of offers people are interested in redeeming.

“(We) show them how many redemptions are happening and how many people are actually clicking on their (business),” Cook said. “That gives them some information around, ‘maybe I need to change up my offer a bit to try to get more people coming in,’ or, ‘things appear to be going very well.’”

The analytics are particularly valuable because of the feedback business owners get on whether or not their offers are being redeemed.

“If they put (an offer) up and they’re not getting redemptions, that’s their customer telling them, ‘that’s not an offer that’s attractive to me,’” Cook said. “If they can tweak that and put up that disruptive offer to get people to come into the business, then we feel like they will gain new business because people come check them out.”

So far, the app is available and being used along most of the West Coast, including Utah, California, Nevada and Colorado, as well as a bit of Texas. Utah County, Salt Lake County and Denver are the three largest areas for the app right now, Gaisford said.

“We recognize that there is a huge potential in almost every city for businesses and consumers to want to share in the savings,” Cook said. “We are excited to keep growing.”

Cook and Gaisford feel optimistic about their growth, since the app isn’t even a year old and is already becoming popular in some states.

Some notable businesses using the app include popular restaurants, such as JCW’s and Cold Stone Creamery. Other companies include BYU Outdoors Unlimited, some virtual experiences and escape rooms, and even a few therapeutic offices. A recent app feature also allows users to suggest businesses they think should be on the platform. Cook said since adding that feature, they’ve received hundreds of suggestions.

“It’s really exciting for us, to help more small businesses like us continue to grow together,” Cook said.

Carley Porter covers northern Utah County and business for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at cporter@heraldextra.com.

Carley Porter covers northern Utah County and business for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at cporter@heraldextra.com.

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