Like most men, Ben Schmid knows that women like to be spoiled with manicures, facials and other feminine indulgences.
He also knows they like shopping for cheap stuff on Groupon, LivingSocial and other daily deal websites.
So he and his business partners started Spoil Me Now, a site that offers discounts on local services and products for women.
"All the other sites are trying to appeal to so many different groups,'' he said. "We thought it would make more sense to make it targeted.''
Spoil Me Now offers four or five discounts at a time, including a featured daily deal Monday through Friday. Based in downtown Tampa, it launched in September and has 4,000 subscribers, a number the company has been growing through social media, billboards and ads.
Deals cover most everything a woman might want, from massages to lip augmentation, usually half-priced or better. Among the most popular so far: 10 spinning classes at SoHo Cycling for $40 (regularly $80) and $65 for a month of unlimited Mystic tans at Soleil Tanning (regularly $155).
Businesses pay nothing to post their deals and typically get 60 percent of the revenue generated, regardless of whether the deal is redeemed. The offers don't get as many buyers as the major deal sites (remember when LivingSocial sold 1 million deals for Whole Foods a few months ago?), but there's no minimum requirement for a deal to take effect.
Billy Williams and Tejas Patel founded the company this summer and brought in Schmid and his brother, Andrew Schmid, to create and manage the site. All have deep roots in Tampa. Ben Schmid and Williams, both 28, attended kindergarten together at St. Mary's Episcopal Day School.
When asked how the bunch of men can run a website geared toward women, they say they know what women want. Then, they point to their all-female sales force that finds the deals.
Spoil Me Now seeks to replicate the success of Groupon and similar sites, but on a smaller scale. Most of the deals focus on independent businesses primarily in South Tampa, although efforts are under way to expand.
Schmid said the site has advantages over bigger ones because it's local and easy to use. Rather than have to weed through a bunch of offers, customers know all the deals will be relevant to them.
Color Me Mine in Hyde Park Village offered $30 worth of make-your-own pottery services for $15 and got a dozen takers. Then the shop tried a Groupon deal and got 1,400.
"I've never been this busy,'' said co-owner Susan Vickers. "It's a little overwhelming, but it's been great because a lot of people never knew we were here.''
She loses money on the vouchers, even if some people don't use them before they expire. Still, she considers it a good way to advertise and hopes many first-timers will return.
Daily deal sites have grown in popularity as consumers look for ways to save money in the weak economy. Shoppers are expected to spend $80 million to $100 million over the holidays, up tenfold from last year, according to North American figures from Yipit, which collects daily online deals.
Spoil Me Now sees a big opportunity in niche daily deal sites and may expand its offerings to include products and services that women could give as gifts for men. It also is hiring more sales reps and hopes to introduce the concept to other cities, possibly Atlanta and Miami.
"We want it to be big, but we don't want to be seen as the monster on the block,'' Schmid said. "We want to be a little different.''