You want to put a chicken coop in your backyard? (Not this writer. We have foxes in the neighborhood.) How about Disney on Ice (a big seller)?
Compared with LivingSocial’s estimated $750 million in revenue, Ratner owns a tiny niche. But it’s lucrative. Crunch the numbers, and the cash to her bottom line will net her about $350,000 personally this year.
Not exactly Carlyle-like, but it puts her within striking distance of the “1 percent” club.
Her office is her home, or her minivan, or the street outside the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in downtown Washington where she recently was pestering a pedicab operator for his card so she could do a deal with him.
Her job starts when she gets up at 6 a.m. and heads to the bathroom with BlackBerry in hand — and lets out a screech if she sees a competitor has stolen one of her deals.
“I see every single purchase and how much I’m making every day,” said Ratner, who owns the entire business, although her father will get a piece in return for handling the accounting.
Certifikid works like this: Ratner calls businesses and offers a custom-designed deal to help them increase their family-friendly traffic. To boost weekday business at a water park, for example, Certifikid might offer a family pack at half price. Of the $10 half-price that a family pays, Ratner might take half and the waterpark the other half. Ratner said she is more flexible than other competitors when it comes to the restrictions and fees on the deals, which has helped her survive.
Since opening her business two years ago, she has worked with about 1,000 businesses in the Washington-Baltimore area. She employs 15 part-timers, including her husband, a full-time antitrust attorney who reviews Certifikid’s deals each evening, even when he is in China.
Ratner, who grew up in Rockville, studied criminal justice at Penn State and earned a master’s in security management at Northeastern University.
She ran security at a defense think tank in Alexandria before answering an ad for a similar position at Williams & Connolly, a downtown law firm (which represents The Washington Post Co.) in downtown Washington.
The job involved ensuring day-to-day security for the firm’s 12-story building and making contingency plans for natural disasters and other emergencies.
“I am always prepared for the worst,” she said.
In late 2009, she was noodling around on her blog, called Little Miss Fun Finds, which meshed with her hobby of finding cheap stuff on things to do and buy, from restaurants to magazines.
She discovered Groupon and LivingSocial, the giant daily deals sites, and immediately bought a $50 dinner at a local Asian restaurant for $25.