An Interview With Cheryl Yeoh, CEO & Co-Founder, CityPockets

Cheryl Yeoh is the CEO of CityPockets, the mint.com for daily deals. It’s a free web and mobile application (coming soon) that helps users import and keep track of all their prepaid vouchers from Groupon, Living Social, BuyWithMe, restaurant.com and others all on one site with a single login. Users can sort vouchers by expiration dates, location and categories as well as redeem them via mobile. They are looking for users, partnerships with deal providers, seed investors and developers to join our team. She will be presenting at the upcoming NY Tech Mixer Demo & Drinks event on January 18th.

Tell me how it all started, where did your vision/inspiration come from?

Earlier last year, while I was still a management consultant at KPMG, I started becoming a daily deal ‘junkie’ and had 20+ vouchers from 6 different sites. I could no longer keep track of which deals I bought from which sites and nearly forgot a voucher that was expiring. So I started posting some vouchers on my food blog to keep tabs. Friends commented on what a brilliant idea that was and wish they had a more efficient way to manage their vouchers. So I started thinking that there could be a need for a voucher/coupon management platform. I also thought that having to print these vouchers out was so outdated and wanted a mobile app that would enable paperless redemption for all providers alike. So I started building CityPockets as a voucher wallet with my co-founder, Jhony, who was working at IBM at the time.

Why does the world need your product?

Daily Deals have exploded into the market and there are now about 200 sites across the country. To a user, it doesn’t really matter who provides the deals as long as it’s a good deal, so people are inevitably buying more vouchers from multiple sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe, Bloomspot, Yelp, OpenTable, Travelzoo, and others over time.

But it’s also difficult to remember the various vouchers, expiration dates, and sites you buy from. Instead of having to log back onto multiple accounts, CityPockets imports your vouchers into one platform and lets you access them with a single login, the same way you import your financial data onto mint.com. With this product, you no longer have to worry about forgetting another voucher.

On the other hand, the daily deal merchants that are being featured want to retain the new customers walking into their stores. We are currently building a merchant platform and working with small businesses to make CityPockets a platform where they can establish relationships with their customers through offering follow-up deals and converting them into repeat patrons.

What would you consider to be a successful result for your company?

We started developing CityPockets summer of 2010 and quit our corporate jobs to work full-time on the startup. In fall, we were chosen as one of seven startups to participate in the LaunchBox10 3-month accelerator program in Durham, NC. The program culminates with demo day on January 11, 2011 where each company presents to angel investors and venture capital firms. As a first-time entrepreneur, I define that as initial success and social proof. Our next milestone is to gain traction for the voucher wallet and raise a seed round to support our merchant services initiatives.

What has been the most challenging aspect about building your startup so far? What has been the most rewarding?

All startups are meant to find a repeatable and scalable business model. Finding someone to pay for your product is not the easiest thing in the world. You have to find a pain point that is big enough and that you can solve better than anyone else. That is probably the most challenging part for any startup. The most rewarding part about starting CityPockets is the accelerated knowledge I’ve gained from wearing multiple hats as a CEO as well as the relationships I’ve built with the brilliant people I would never have crossed paths with had I not become an entrepreneur.

What do you do for fun when not working on your company?

I work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it’s tough to do anything that is not related to CityPockets these days. Days blend into nights, weekdays blend into weekends. But I suppose if I do find time (and the money!), I love to travel, snowboard, play golf and dine out.

This upcoming gathering, being a Demos and Drinks event, we have to ask: what’s your favorite drink?

I love a good old single-malt scotch and whiskey cocktails (i.e. the old fashioned / the penicillin). Not very girly, I know.

Cheryl Yeoh will be providing a demo at NY Tech Mixer’s January 18th event at Crimson. Visit NYTechMixer.com to RSVP.

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