Featured Startup Pitch: CouponTrade.com—a new marketplace for buying and selling daily deals and gift cards

By Editor October 4, 2011


CouponTrade_logoCompany: CouponTrade.com
Website:  www.coupontrade.com
Founders: George Bousis and Bradley Wasz
Headquarters: Chicago
Year Founded: 2010
Employees: 20
Twitter: @coupontrade
Brief Company Description: CouponTrade: where coupon experts buy and sell daily deals and gift cards.

CouponTrade_foundersBy George Bousis, co-founder and CEO

Product Overview

CouponTrade.com is a secure marketplace where coupon experts buy and sell daily deals and gift cards. Our long-term goal is to teach consumers better shopping habits while helping them save money and take advantage of these awesome deals, and perhaps even make money off of their own deals and gift cards.

We’re aiming to create the web’s most extensive marketplace of gift cards, daily deals, coupon codes, map views, digital coupons and more, to empower consumers with exceptional savings to help them stretch the value of a dollar. By developing innovative technologies to support this new social shopping model, it’s our goal to put purchase power back into the hands of the people as a way to help boost the economy.

Founders’ Story

I come from a family of successful entrepreneurs, but I found my inspiration from the other family hobby—saving money. A “nonredeemable coupon” incident in my family’s store got me interested in advances in couponing, gift cards and daily deals, and I decided to partner with Bradley Wasz, an expert in the e-commerce industry, to create an online marketplace for gift cards and daily deals.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

The goal is to promote a lifestyle that’s savvy, funny, and always engaging. Currently, we’re delighting our fans with daily Twitter and Facebook giveaways, while letting the educational and technological tools essentially speak for themselves. We often mention the deals available on the marketplace and plan do to that more as the marketplace grows. We think it’s especially important to support our sellers; those are the people who make CouponTrade fun and exciting.

We’re also launching an affiliate marketing effort in the near future. Affiliate marketing is, in our opinion, one of the best forms of online marketing. Affiliate bloggers and publishers are free to write what they think will sell our products to their audience, giving a voice to all the different communities that use our services and shop on our marketplace. A competitive program will create a large amount of backlinks, especially to the deals within our site that are the most exciting.

How We Differentiate from the Competition

Because we’re in two different industries, we have a lot of competitors, but we don’t have any competitors at this moment that are both in gift cards and daily deals, so we think this gives us an advantage. We’ve noticed that our competitors in the daily deals reseller industry are mostly just flying on the coat tails of the daily deal industry, without a lot of strategy or what we would see as long-term planning. We’ve also noticed that some of our competitors are either less interested or unable to provide the customer service that we’re offering. We take the approach that human beings still need to work with other human beings, that attempting to fully automate all processes in customer service actually makes tech companies seem cold and calculating, or even worse, possessing a passive-aggressive view of the consumer. We don’t believe that picking up the phone and talking to customers is a waste of time. Instead, we see it as an opportunity to make a connection and to learn more about our audience and their needs.

In terms of our competitors in the gift card resellers group, we differentiate ourselves in one very unique way: by taking ourselves out of the sales process as much as possible. Most gift card resellers, such as Plastic Jungle and CardWoo, act as brokers. They purchase the gift cards from sellers at about 70 percent of the value, then resell the gift cards at 90 percent of the value. We offer our gift cards sellers the opportunity to get the full 90 percent of the value of their card, and even market that card to their friends and family.

Business Model

We take a small fee from each sale, depending on the prize of the product. Currently, we’re attempting to grow our group of sellers. We also have an inventory of gift cards that were previously purchased from private sellers prior to the launch of the site, which we’re selling at a discounted rate to keep buyers excited about our products.

While we’re currently only playing in the daily deal and gift card resale space, we’re very intrigued by the online coupon industry, and what it can mean for our customers. Some retailers allow coupon experts to apply a promotional code on top of a gift card, and if we can provide both the discounted deal and the discounted e-gift card, the savings can be phenomenal.

Current Needs

We’re currently looking for investors. We’ve recently received seed funding from private investors, but we’d be interested in taking in more funds. We are looking for employees as well. We have a team of web developers, but our needs (and ideas) may be growing faster than our ability to fill them. We’re also on the lookout for marketing professionals with specific skillsets (media buying, SEO, analytics) who are willing to take a chance on a new website that’s getting more attention every day.

CouponTrade – www.coupontrade.com