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Mobile shopping startup CheckPoints gets $1M in funding

CheckPoints LLC, a mobile startup slated to enter the location-based retail category in September, closed a $1 million Founder Series A financing round from the cofounders, brothers Mark and Todd DiPaola.

CheckPoints plans to launch bar-code-enabled location-based shopping applications for the iPhone in September and for Android devices in October. The applications will enable consumers to earn virtual currency they can redeem for rewards and learn about new products by going to retail stores, looking at products and scanning their bar codes using their handsets.

“CheckPoints is a real-world product discovery and connection engine that is quite a bit different from other platforms in the location-based space,” said Mark DiPaola, cofounder/CEO of CheckPoints, Venice, CA. “Foursquare and its brethren are really focused on place, whereas we’re really focused on product.

“We’re providing ways for product owners and manufactures to reach out to consumers and draw them to their product in store, then when they’re in store, engage that consumer with mobile coupons, information and other incentives,” he said.

“We address challenges for the product manufacturers themselves.”

Mr. DiPaola and his brother Todd, now president of CheckPoints, created performance marketing agency Vantage Media in 2002, bootstrapped it to No. 31 on the Inc 500 list, and sold the company for more than $150 million in 2007.

Mobile location-based product app
Mr. DiPaola said that for advertisers, CheckPoints provides quantifiable audience engagement in their product at the place where it matters most—the point of purchase.

CheckPoints’ mobile application will let shoppers use their smartphones to discover featured brands and deals in retail locations nationwide.

CheckPoints will partner with product manufacturers and brands in various sectors, including consumer packaged goods, to run location-based promotions via the application. No partnerships had been announced at press time.

“We really want to focus on product because we feel that is an underserved area within the location-based space,” Mr. DiPaola said.

Consumers accrue points by checking in or scanning products’ bar codes, with no purchase required, and can cash in their earnings at the CheckPoints Rewards Store for exclusive offers such as gift cards and airline miles.

CheckPoints are a universal mobile currency, meaning that points accrued at specific business are not limited to redemption in that outlet. 

Mr. DiPaola said that the explosive rate of smartphone adoption and the mainstreaming of location-based check-in services provides an opportunity for consumer brands that seek to attract customers, increase loyalty and boost their bottom line.

In addition to viral elements built into the application, CheckPoints will get the word out by running cost-per-install/cost-per-download mobile advertising campaigns.

“Users will be able to refer other users in exchange for receiving CheckPoints currency,” Mr. DiPaola said.

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily