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Student organizations sell CommuniKeys for fundraising competition

Local contest for charity involves card membership offering discounts, freebies

CommuniKey, the self-proclaimed “ultimate friend with benefits,” is holding a fundraiser benefiting both participating student organizations and a charity of their choice.

From March 23 to April 6, student organizations that sign up with CommuniKey will be asked to sell membership cards, or CommuniKeys. Each card costs $10 and offers yearlong access to discounts and freebies from local businesses.

For each card a student organization sells, they keep 50 percent of the profit, and $1 is donated to a charity of their choice.

According to David Simel, co-founder and chief technology officer of CommuniKey, the three student groups that sell the most CommuniKeys will win cash prizes of $200, $100 and $50 in addition to 50 percent of the profits from the cards that they sell.

“We’re giving away 60 percent of our profits during this fundraiser, and we’re hoping that this will benefit both Binghamton businesses and student organizations, as well as spread awareness about CommuniKey,” said Simel, a 2011 Binghamton University alumnus who majored in management.

Simel did not comment on the student groups that signed up to participate.

Simel and four classmates founded CommuniKey in May of 2011 almost immediately following their graduation from BU. His colleagues are Jimmy Orband, Adam Sabol and David Brosius, who all majored in marketing, and Lee Rogers, who majored in philosophy, politics and law.

“We got started because we realized that a lot of students didn’t know the area as well as we thought, so we wanted to figure out a way to expose them to businesses and give them an incentive to do it,” Simel said.

CommuniKey offers deals ranging from 10 to 15 percent off at more than 50 restaurants, as well as several mechanic and auto body shops. Participating businesses include Whole in the Wall, Burger Mondays, Nirchi’s Pizza and Tom & Marty’s.

On their website, they offer freebies and larger discounts for a featured restaurant each week. They also have a blog that publicizes new businesses, reviews restaurants and offers a guide to dining during Family Weekend.

“We also host lots of awesome events for our members and the community each year, from eating contests to parties at bars Downtown,” Simel said.

According to Simel, CommuniKey has plans to make their membership mobile by next year.

“Right now it’s a card, and what you do is you show the business the card and you get the discount. We’re going to take that, turn it into an app and also map out where all the businesses are,” Simel said.

According to Simel, CommuniKey is continuing to expand and frequently approaches local businesses to inquire if they are interested in getting into the student market. If they agree, CommuniKey advertises the business on their website and adds them to their discount card.

“We want the community in general to know that we’re just here trying to connect students to the Greater Binghamton area businesses, and give them a good fun way to do it,” Simel said. “We just want to get people psyched about the community, plain and simple.”