Groupon for the service industry: IndiCard gives bartenders, waiters, and hairstylists discounts in Chicago

by Julianne Tveten
February 18, 2015

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During Myles Bailey’s eight-year tenure as a bartender, he and his coworkers would visit the same local bars and restaurants before and after work. Eventually, due both to their loyalty and to their empathetic positions as fellow-servers, they developed a relationship with employees at the establishments, entitling them to what Bailey likes to call “insane hookups” (e.g., discounts).

This made it, to borrow Bailey’s words, “awkward” when they visited a new establishment. Accustomed to the luxury of free drinks and meals, Bailey and his coworkers were reluctant to try a new bar or restaurant where they had to pay full price.

According to Bailey, this pattern is endemic to the service industry (which he defines as a collective of people who work for tips and don’t manufacture products), and he plans to put it to a stop. Bailey is the founder of IndiCard, a membership-based app that gives Uber drivers, DJs, tattoo artists, hairstylists, and other members of the service industry access to discounts from local service establishments, even if they’ve never been there before.

Though headquartered in Denver, the company knew the cultural hub of Chicago was a natural second location. 

“The service industry has a bad habit of visiting the same places over and over again. Through incentives, we knew we could help support local businesses and connect industry employees, all while saving them some money and supporting their fellow-co-workers,” he said.

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The app, which grants membership to users as long as they work in the service industry (the website contains a list of eligible positions), is an industry-specific analog to Groupon. It uses geolocation to find participating establishments that are close and relevant for members; members then present a digital ID card at the location, entitling them to a deal at the establishment’s discretion.

Membership is free for the first three months, with a $20 fee every six months to follow.

Bailey said IndiCard has partnered with 210 restaurants and bars: 106 in Denver and 104 in Chicago, with four full-time employees. The startup, he said, has raised $250,000 from friends and family.

“We’re planning to raise an angel round during the first half of 2015, which will allow us to expand to five more markets and continue development of our app. We plan to launch IndiCard in the top 30 U.S. cities within five years,” he added.

Bailey is hopeful that IndiCard will level the playing field for service-industry employees and small businesses; by offering blanket discounts for all members, he seeks to heighten the level of industry-wide inclusivity.

“Our goal is to create a national network of service industry employees,” he said. “If our members travel to IndiCard cities they will be connected to the industry leaders and know they will be taken care of like they are at their own place of employment.”

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