Nightlife deals site Poggled gets $5.6M to grow

By Wailin Wong
Posted April 6 at 12:41 p.m.

Poggled, a Chicago startup that provides deals on nightlife and bars, has raised $5.6 million in a round of funding that will let the company expand into new markets and build additional features for its mobile applications.

The $5.6 million came from Menlo Park, Calif.-based New Enterprise Associates, which also is an investor in Chicago-based Groupon Inc. New Enterprise has a fruitful history with Lightbank, the local investment firm run by Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell. The two men also backed Groupon in its early days and provided Poggled with $500,000 in seed money last year. New Enterprise has invested in other Lightbank portfolio companies such as Echo Global Logistics, InnerWorkings and Mediabank.

Consumers can get nightlife deals and drink specials via or iPhone and Android apps. Subscribers get a personal code that they can redeem at the bar or club. Poggled also has partnerships with liquor companies. An example of a current deal is $7 for one appetizer and two domestic drafts or well cocktails at Cuna in Lakeview.

Poggled co-founder Joe Matthews met the Lightbank team when he took a class taught by Lefkofsky and Keywell at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management two years ago. As a student, Matthews was already working on the idea for Poggled, whose name is a 1920’s slang term for tipsy.

Matthews is “looking at a big space that’s not easily addressable, which is nightlife and bars on the one hand, and on the (other) hand, people looking to go out and have fun and spend time with friends,” Keywell told the Tribune. He said Poggled  connects those two elements with alcohol, liquor, wine and beer companies looking to get into a dialogue with consumers but without the tools to do so.

Poggled is only in Chicago for now, but Matthews said the funding will help the company expand to at least five more markets “very quickly.” The startup will also be adding social features to its app, with the ability to find friends while they’re out and get a sense of the real-time scene at a bar or club.

As for Lightbank’s future investments, Keywell said he and Lefkofsky continue to look for “very strong, very resourceful entrepreneurs” to whom they can lend their expertise and financial backing. The majority of Lightbank’s portfolio companies are based in the Chicago area, although the fund recently invested in Qwiki, a San Francisco-based startup. Keywell said the firm is considering opening satellite offices in other cities but hasn’t made any decisions.

“What you’re seeing is an investment fund that is operating under the rules of ‘Do things that make the most sense,’ rather than follow a strict script,” Keywell said.

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