Canadian Startup Vouchr Raises $620K of $1 Million Seed Round, Launches iPhone App

Toronto-based Vouchr today launched the Vouchr iPhone app and announced a seed round.

Vouchr raised $1 million in a round led by Extreme Venture Partners, with participation from “key employees” from Facebook, Google, and American Express. The Canadian startup’s new app is described as a “free, fun, and simple way to make the best local recommendations for friends and family.”

The company explains:

Vouchr distinguishes itself from similar services through its novel approach to recommendations. Through the app, users ‘vouch’ for experiences they love at real-world locations by creating vouchers that only their Facebook friends can claim. The first friend to claim the voucher using the Vouchr app gets a gift of cash dedicated towards enjoying that experience. Why just recommend a great burger to your friends when you can give it to them as a gift?

“The idea for Vouchr came out of our frustration with the abundance of empty information being shared by friends and family on our social feeds,” said Vouchr founder Robert Balahura. “If someone shares a Lolcat video, I can watch it and re-share it, but I can’t do much with a friend’s check-in or a photo of the burger they just ate. With Vouchr, we want you to eat the burger, too.”

Vouchr also leverages deep PayPal integration to provide peer-to-peer transactions, eliminating the need for merchant involvement, according to the company. This means that there is no limit to the types of local experiences that can be vouched for, the startup explains—from a delicious burger or rare microbrew, to an evening at the theatre or favourite yoga class, anything works. But that doesn’t mean it screws over merchants: Vouchr affirms that it drives customers to physical locations and allows merchants to identify advocates for their most popular products and services.

“We’re very excited about Vouchr’s potential to allow merchants to know more about their customers, and which ones they should be targeting,” said Vouchr cofounder Michael Humphries. “Being able to know which specific products your customers are advocating for, and who those advocates are, is far more valuable than knowing how many times a customer has checked into your location, for example. And that’s just the start.”

Robert’s previous startup, J2Play, was also backed by EVP. It was acquired by EA in 2009. “Rob is a visionary entrepreneur, who is well ahead of the curve in spotting trends and market shifts,” noted Suresh Bhat from Extreme Venture Partners. “He has a proven ability to execute, and we look forward to helping him create the category leader in local recommendations.”

Vouchr was launched in October.

UPDATE: To date, Vouchr has currently raised $620,000 of a $1 million round, not the full million (yet).