Refusing to quit


Cary Chessick launched in 1999, and the original concept was for restaurants to pay an annual fee in exchange for a priority listing and Web site in the directory. While many were interested in the concept, they were unwilling to pay because they weren’t sure how the site would directly link to profits. So, after just six months, Chessick was forced to shut down the business when funding ran out.

He went back to the drawing board and eventually came up with the idea of restaurants promoting their business at no cost through the sale of gift certificates, so the gift certificate program started. But while it was the right plan and restaurants were willing, Chessick didn’t have the funding to educate potential diners about the gift certificates. After trying auction-style selling on eBay, he made the tough decision to shut down the business again and try to create a steadier and stronger business model that would be more scalable.

This time he relaunched the site selling gift certificates directly from his own site. He increased distribution by creating affiliate relationships with thousands of other Web sites and generated direct sales through the appeal of the name, and he built an e-mail database of consumers for remarketing purposes. This time the business took off.

In the following years, Chessick launched a business-to-business division, created a gift center, developed a reservation system and expanded program appeal by targeting chain and multiunit restaurants, all of which allowed the business to grow.

Now has been featured nationally in the media and its success is evident in its financial results. Between 2007 and 2009, the company’s sales grew by more than 180 percent and staff also drastically increased in that time period, as well.

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