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Tipping off Tipsy Tokens

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What do you get when you mix drink specials and poker chips? Tipsy Tokens, founded in Sacramento in 2011, is similar to the concept of Groupon, but focuses its promotions on local bars and nightclubs.

What sets Tipsy Tokens apart from the other coupon sites is its social focus, co-founder Robert Cima said.

“Though you’re purchasing something online, there’s a social aspect involved. There are reps on-site at the event checking people in and making sure everyone is having a good time. Also, you’re provided something physical: Tipsy Tokens. These tokens are colorful poker chips with the company logo on them used for buying drinks and playing games.”

According to Cima, the project began about six months ago when Kory Lanzel (another co-founder) was working for the Major League Soccer team Real Salt Lake in Utah.

The team was in the process of doing a deal with Groupon, which gave Lanzel the idea of applying that concept to his social life.

Lanzel called his friends Cima, Steve Gunsch and Nick Baldi, who all agreed that there was a great market for a social buying site that focused on nightlife.

Monkey Bar, at Capitol Ave. and 28th St., is the first bar to feature Tipsy Tokens regularly.

For $10, Tipsy Tokens’ users can get two Wiki Waki Woo’s or four draft beers at Monkey Bar on Thursday nights.

Jamie Marcus, the general manager at Monkey Bar and Cafe Bernardo Midtown, noted the Tipsy Tokens program has had a positive impact on business.

“People who normally wouldn’t come here get an opportunity to see what it’s like at a discounted rate,” Marcus said.

“With Tipsy Tokens, Thursday nights weren’t just busy, but very busy, and eventually we started seeing people from Thursdays on the weekends,” added Marcus.

Sacramentan Cole Valadez, 26, works in sales for eye care insurance technology and heard about Tipsy Tokens through a friend who came across the viral campaign on Facebook.

He said he has used the Monkey Bar deal about three or four times.

“I like that they are selling a very specific product and that the deal is available every week,” Valadez said. “The reason I keep coming back is their consistency. And of course, it’s just fun. You can share your tokens, too, and it really brings people together.”

Another difference between the social buying or group buying sites (where companies offer a special deal on products or services if a minimum number of deals are sold) and Tipsy Tokens is that Tipsy Tokens must be used that same night.

Cima said this benefits the business because if the customers don’t use the token that night, the customers lose out on the purchase. It also benefits the buyer, Cima added, because you can see how many other people bought the deal and there is a good chance those people will be out at that particular bar or club that night.

Overall though, the niche nature of the company is a valued point reiterated by several users and potential buyers, as well as the creators themselves.

Blue Cue is located in the heart of Midtown.
The consistency was part of the appeal to Blue Cue owner Dominic Vella. Vella came across Tipsy Tokens on Facebook and then noticed that they were doing something over at Monkey Bar.

“I try to be cognizant of what everyone else is doing, and after popping in and checking out the crowd for about five minutes during their Monkey Bar night, I contacted them about setting up a deal for Blue Cue.”

Blue Cue, located at 28th and J, will offer Tipsy Tokens specials on Pineapple Delights, Shocker Deuces and pint draft beers Friday night during the live-band karaoke.

Vella said he is looking forward to not only bringing in new faces, but hopefully turning those newbies into regular customers.

Baldi spoke about taking up the endeavor with his three friends.

“Right now, it’s on the side, just kind of something we thought up and decided it seemed like a great idea for us to all go out and have a great time,” he said.

“Honestly, there’s just us four handling everything from the website to social media to marketing, but our friends have been instrumental in supporting and promoting the idea.”

They said they are currently working on a smartphone application that can help users search for places to go in their area and purchase associated deals.

Lanzel, Cima, Baldi and Gunsch are not only partners, but longtime friends, as well as born-and-raised Sacramentans.

Now back in their hometown, they said they hope to turn this part-time startup into a full-time company.

“We don’t have any investors, but it’s our own thing, and every dollar earned is really exciting,” Baldi said.

For current deals or more information, check out their site.

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