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Q&A: Ventureburn chats to ex-Groupon SA CEO about new startup

In a move that may appear baffling at first, the ex-CEO of Groupon SA, Wayne Gosling, has created a similar business after the former closed its doors in SA. Named Hyperli, the startup launched earlier this month with backing from Gosling’s own fund, Team Africa Ventures.

At present, Hyperli offers similar offers to the likes of Daddy’s Deals, such as food & drink, health & fitness, as well as entertainment.

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Ventureburn had a chance to catch up with Gosling to ask why the company was launched, how it will differentiate itself from Groupon, and what the marketing strategy is.

Ventureburn: After the closure of Groupon SA, why start a new and similar business?

Wayne Gosling: Groupon was a big and profitable business. Groupon US closed the business down as they didn’t see SA and other emerging markets on its road map, not because it was a troubled entity. So we see a huge opportunity in one of the remaining white spaces on the internet: connecting local merchants with consumers.

Personally, I am excited by the challenge. Groupon came a long way in five years but there is still so much to do. Hyperli provides that opportunity.

VB: How has the company been funded and what is the amount?

WG: Self-funded through mine and my business partners’ seed fund – Team Africa Ventures – at this stage. Drawing down on undisclosed amounts as needed.

VB: How will you stand out from the competition?

WG: Providing a slicker marketplace for customers and our partners to engage on. Customers will have a better platform on which to engage merchants, and in time a smoother voucher redemption process. Merchants will be able to load their own deals and we’ll provide them with more useful tools and data.

VB: What will the marketing strategy be for Hyperli?

WG: As a local commerce business, we concentrate on digital channels that yield the highest conversion. We have worked hard on a cohesive voice and message for our brand that will be delivered through Display, SEO, SEM, Social and Email.

A mobile app is on our roadmap for early 2017 as we expect the next twelve months to be a breakthrough period in online shopping. Internet and mobile penetration figures have been impressive, which will allow us to enter new markets.

Groupon historically targeted higher LSMs than our target market. Now, having full autonomy of our product is allowing us to concentrate on a South African solution for local commerce.

New payment solutions including SnapScan and EFT which allow even more users to purchase through our platform.

The industry has also seen a heavy weighting towards female shoppers, which is not aligned with South African ecommerce in general (51% male shoppers). Hyperli aims to tackle this imbalance with a broader selection of inventory appealing to a wider target audience.

VB: How will Hyperli stay fresh with its offerings?

WG: Although labelled a tech space the daily deal industry is driven primarily by sales, this has meant that growth in merchants is limited to the size of your active sales. Our efforts involve breaking the mould and utilising a self-service marketing portal to allow merchants to organically create offerings (at better rates than our competitors) for our database and ultimately to a broader array of inventory available on demand from our customers.

VB: How will you reach consumers who have been bombarded with deals and emails in the past/from competition?

WG: ‘Deal fatigue’ is often a term that is used to describe daily deal sites. In my opinion, it is less about the actual deal and more about the time a consumer is willing to spend seeking it out. That’s why on top of constantly searching for amazing offers for our customers, relevance and search has been such a critical part of our new platform.

It is up to us as a marketplace to give our customers the most relevant offerings at any time, and make searching for what they want a frictionless experience. We plan to make a shift away from the email marketing reliant model that has been adopted over the years and refocus on an omnichannel approach to creating moments of perfect engagement between consumers and merchants.
VB: How will you instil trust in vendors who used to use Groupon?

WG: We have long-standing relationships with many SA based merchants. We will be creating more favourable commercial partnerships and will be working closely with all merchants in creating success stories.

VB: What lessons have you learnt from your time at Groupon SA?

WG: Hire the best people and purposefully build your culture. Start with the customer and work backwards.

VB: Do you have a roadmap for Hyperli?

WG: Nothing concrete to share. Our vision is to create moments of perfect engagement between customers and partners.

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