In a city with thousands of bars and restaurants, it can be hard to decide where to go for an after-work happy hour or a Saturday night out. But a new local startup wants to help expose Chicagoans to new places by luring them with specials, discounts and more.
SpotLyte Specials, founded by Dan Trainor, CEO, and Kevin Zdeblick, COO, is a website and mobile app that lists more than 25,000 drink and food discounts from about 3,400 Chicago bars and restaurants. The startup, launched in October, has more than 1,000 users so far, with about 10-20 new ones every day.
“I was working in the city, and whenever I went out, I would type ‘bars near me’ in Google, but it just never helped me find a good place to go,” Trainor said. “What I found was that I got stuck in the habit of going to the same old place. I know their menu. I know what they offer. And I don’t want to go out and figure out some other place. That’s kind of a daunting task, especially in the city.”
SpotLyte has built a technology that crawls bar and restaurant websites for specials and happy hours. Additionally, bars and restaurants can submit their specials directly to SpoyLyte to be included on its platform.
To allow users to find exactly what they are looking for in a bar or restaurant special, SpotLyte has configured a series of filters so users can find deals that cater to their specific preferences.
“If you want to search for margaritas on a Tuesday at 7 p.m. for $3, we give you the ability to actually drill down by whatever item you’re in the mood for,” Zdeblick said.
The service is only operating in Chicago right now, but the founders said they have plans to expand it to Madison, Wis., Milwaukee and other Midwest cities next year.
Another Chicago startup similar to SpotLyte is BarPass, which launched in 2016. The startup offers a ClassPass-like membership model, which allows users to attend weekly after-work happy hours that include drink specials and discounts. Additionally, users receive a free drink from BarPass for every happy hour they attend using the startup’s service, a benefit users don’t get using SpotLyte right now, though the founders say that’s a feature they want to add in the future.
SpotLyte, which has been bootstrapped, has three full-time employees who work out of an office in Bartlett, Ill.