10 Q's - Interview with Chris McIntyre of "Carl Says"

Discover Local Places. Get Great Deals.

Carl Says works with local merchants to give you sweet deals, right when you can use them. Do you use Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla or Twitter? You'll love Carl Says even more because we make those apps better! (oh yeah, it's free too!)

Chris McIntyre, Founder of Carl Says


What in the world is CarlSays and who is Carl? CarlSays is a location based rewards program that lets local places (like restaurants and coffee shops) interact with current customers, and nearby people as well, in a unique way. By tracking where CarlSays users check-in, we are able to deliver discounts (like 50% off, buy on get one, and more) at nearby places. For example, if you are a CarlSays user in Brentwood, Tn and check-in at Starbucks -- you might just get an awesome deal from The Perch, a local coffee house, enticing you to come see them the next time you need some caffeine.

As for Carl - he is our mascot, and octopus :) There is a lot of interesting conversations around why Carl is the mascot, but we can save that for a different time.

Meet Carl!

What makes CarlSays different from Gowalla or 4Square? CarlSays does not care what app you use to check-in with: you can use foursquare, facebook, gowalla or twitter right now (with more coming soon) in order to earn rewards. So we don't require you to change what you are doing in anyway. Once you have signed up, CarlSays will find deals nearby from awesome local places and deliver them to your phone, with a unique redemption code, to use whenever you want!

What motivated you to get into the location-based business? I moved here from San Francisco about 2 years ago. I was just starting to get into using foursquare out there before I moved to Nashville, and when I got here... I was the mayor of a lot of places, but was getting no rewards. I even became the mayor of Pizza Hut which was offering free breadsticks to the mayor! Unfortunately, the servers had no idea what foursquare was and did not give me my reward.

My friends and I got together and decided we were going to build a platform where local places could compete with the big brands like Starbucks and Pizza Hut even though they didn't have the multi-million dollar advertising budget those guys did. And it's working! It is carlsays.com

With Google’s attempted purchase of Groupon (in excess of $6 Billion), do you think a location based, experiencial coupon service such as CarlSays is ripe for the picking? certainly that has to have you salivating a bit...

...Yes I do believe this is going to be a huge year. 2011 will definitely be the year of the check-in. Location is going to be part of every app and marketing campaign around the world this year, and CarlSays (and parent company Checkd-In, Corp) will be there to offer an easy way for people to get those awesome rewards. We did not get into this to sell out at the first offer, we are in this to build the most robust and user friendly way for local places to offer great deals to their local audience without paying an arm and a leg.

This being a local start-up, are there plans to expand? Of course! We are already testing in Atlanta and San Francisco, and have people all across the country trying to use it. We are preparing massive upgrades that will allow local merchants to signup and create deals for free! In a few months, locations all across the country will be able to leverage CarlSays to build a cost effective marketing campaign to attract new customers, and to reward loyal customers too.

How long have you been in middle Tennessee and how long ago did you relocate? I moved here 2 years ago in January, and it's the best decision I have ever made. The last 2 years have seen MASSIVE growth in the tech sector in Tennessee with many new companies launching here and a number of incubators like the Jumpstart Foundry popping up to fund those startup ideas!

How big is the company and are you growing/hiring? We are a small group, starting off as 3 friends. We partnered with some local thought leaders and have since hired a president, salesman and vp of operations too. Additionally, we have a handful of contract developers and are looking to grow with a few more people throughout this year. It should be a great year for the local merchants and for CarlSays/Checkd-In too!

What advice would you give any web designer, entrepreneur trying to make it with a startup in the Nashville area?

There are a couple of great pieces of advice I can offer up having started and/or run many startups over the years:

  • Find mentors, first and most importantly. If you have not done a startup before, you will mess up a lot. Finding mentors or advisors will help you navigate your way through some of the common hurdles and will save you time, money and heartache.
  • Accept that there are things you don't know. Your eyes will be opened daily to things you did not know were possible, or things that you thought could not happen that suddenly do. Be prepared to be humbled daily.
  • It's ok to be stupid, but be a sponge too. Meaning: you should only hire or work with people smarter than you. Hire your team carefully so you can learn from them and that you can build each other up. This is the foundation of great company culture, and great friendships.

If you were stuck on a dessert island and could take only three things with you... What would they be? (there is Wifi and 4G service on this island) Man, this is a hard one. While I am an early adopter and I LOVE shopping for the perfect item, I don't require much anything to live. I guess if I had to choose, it would look like this... My wife  (don't tell her I called her a 'thing') My iPad A Coffee Maker These 3 things encompass my every day and every weekend: spending time with my wife, reading news/playing on my iPad and drinking coffee.

Name your favorite musical album.  What is your top iPod tune right now? I love music, and I am always jumping from genre to genre. The last few months I listened to a lot of dub step and hip hop mix tapes, but more recently I have started listening to a ton of blues (but that's because Im learning to play harmonica possibly). All time favorite album is probably Jay Z's black album - I really respect the way he built his empire. My iPod on the other hand, is mostly podcasts: Dust for Eyes Hip Hop Podcast, Fit Life (my wifes fitness video podcast) and The CO (a local Nashville group that kicks ass...not a podcast).