CityPockets Founder Cheryl Yeoh on Her Start-Up’s First Acquisition and the Emerging WeWork Mafia

Last week, New York-based e-coupon organizer CityPockets announced the acquisition of the month-old, one-man start-up Dealburner, a real-time SMS notification for daily deals based on the Foursquare API. DealBurner was created by Jason Fertel after he and his two co-founders decided to abandon their group-texting start-up Freespeech, which seemed doomed despite sending half a million texts a day just because there were so many bigger start-ups doing the same thing. Both CityPockets CEO Cheryl Yeoh and Mr. Fertel worked out of the Soho co-working space WeWork Labs, which has seen companies formed, funded by angel investors and accepted into incubators since it opened in April.

Betabeat caught up with Ms. Yeoh to ask about plans for DealBurner. 

So CityPockets acquired Dealburner. Does that mean Jason Fertel is a CityPockets employee now?

Yes, he’ll be our Director of Engineering–our 5th employee.

When did you start thinking Dealburner might make a good feature for CityPockets?

CityPockets has always had Dealburner in our product roadmap. In fact, the week he launched it, was the week we were supposed to build it! Naveen from Foursquare actually saw my demo for SXSW back in March and when we chatted, he actually hinted at this idea and encouraged us to build on top of their API… so we’ve had this in mind for a long time now. But we didn’t manage to get to it with all the fundraising, relaunching of website, hiring, etc. until now.

Anyway so I thought, hey, why reinvent the wheel and compete against another start-up? I decided to meet up with Jason to see if our visions aligned and if he could potentially be a good fit as an employee at CityPockets… and not just an employee but someone who can help us drive the company forward. After meeting with him, I decided it’s worth a shot given that it’s so competitive these days to find a talented and good engineer. The fact that Jason had previously built an app and a company was a good enough indication that he has the startuppy spirit that we’re looking for.

What’s the timeline for integration?

We’re working on something major right now but I promise you’ll see it soon and we’ll let Betabeat know!

Is Jason hoping to bring on his former employees from his original start-up?

Not yet but possibly in the near future. We always need great iPhone developers and mobile is going to be a core strategy for us going forward.

CityPockets and Dealburner both started working out of WeWork Labs. Is this a sign of an emerging WeWork mafia?

Yes, out of the five CityPockets employees now, four were previously WWL tenants (including Jin Kim who sat next to me and was my UI/UX consultant to redesign CityPockets before I hired her to be full time). Jin is now my Director of Product & Design and plays an instrumental role in driving CityPockets’ product roadmap. She brings years of experience at PayPal & Ebay and is insanely talented. CityPockets Founder Cheryl Yeoh on Her Start-Up’s First Acquisition and the Emerging WeWork Mafia