Last week I met with a group of very ambitious young guys in Dubai who are working on a independently funded startup called Grosper. I know what you’re thinking why would users choose Grosper over any of the existing websites such as gonabit, cobone, etc… I asked the Co-founder of the one month old startup the same question and he had a good answer “Grosper is a group buying website that has a different twist to it. It doesn’t focus on your daily consumer items instead we are focusing mainly on real estate, autos, travel and Tutoring/education services” Mohammed Hingora – Co-Founder/CEO
I will explain further on how Grosper works, but first I would like to mention the names of the people behind Grosper:
- Mohammed Hingora – Co-Founder/CEO
- Mustafa Hingora – Co-Founder/CEO
- Gladwyn Lewis – CTO
- Brandon vaz – Graphic Design Intern
Mohammed and Mustafa Hingora are the two that came up with the idea (and they actually happen to be fraternal twins). The reason they started Grosper is that they felt that customers in Dubai were very unhappy with the real estate situation and the small investors felt like they were being cheated, so with this platform all customers would be entitled to leverage the benefits of group buying in order to get better results, Mohammed mentioned that it doesn’t always have to be a better price, it could be negotiating power or knowledge power. The whole concept is aggregating people to aggregate power.
Mohammed then cited a report he had read earlier this year that between 30-35% of an average family household income goes into real estate while only 20-25% goes into the day to day consumer items.
Another important feature that Grosper provides is the ability for users to create their own deals. Basically users who are registered can setup a deal, which has to be approved by Grosper before going live, and then request people who are serious about purchasing this product/service to join and if they get enough people they will contact supplier and negotiate with them directly with the aid of Grosper. The user defined deals will remain on the website for 14 days because they don’t it to be like a forum, also there cannot be duplicate entries for example a user can’t add a deal for a Honda Accord if there is one already posted by someone else. Below is a screenshot of how this section will look like:
We then discussed how Gropser will manage user deals, because if it takes off it will require a lot of monitoring and moderation, and how can Grosper ensure that the deals are not being added by someone whose not serious at all. To which Mohammed replied that they have been working on an algorithm to make this process more trustworthy. The algorithm will take into account:
- User history with the website
- How fast the deal is being shared
- How many users joined the group
- Group joiner’s history with the website (obviously the group creator has more weight than group followers)
Users can also be warned or blacklisted from this section of the website.
After that we talked about the website and if they had a running demo, they were nice enough to provide us with some screenshots of their work in progress website as you can see below:
Manage account page
Grosper Deal Page
Grosper’s Past Deals page
The website will initially focus on deals from Dubai, even the travel section will aim to push tourism inside the UAE, Mohammed called it stay-cations instead of vacations. So they would practically have deals for hotels and resorts in Fujierah and RAK in the UAE.
Grosper’s marketing will focus entirely on social networks especially on Twitter, they have already started a sweepstakes campaign where users can enter a chance to win an iPad 2 by referring three friends to register on to the site. Once the website is ready to go live sometime in July/August they will also have a number of videos that will help in educating people on how to use Grosper and raise awareness about the new platform, since Grosper is a social commerce platform they hope these videos will have a viral effect. In the future they plan to keep the users coming back with a loyalty program that is still being planned.
As to how they will measure their success they mentioned the following metrics:
- No. of Active Users
- No. of Registered Users
- No. of Followers on Social networks
- Social Engagement
Mohammed feels that they will have a very tough six months ahead just to educate users on how to use the personalized group deals, but he is confident with their phased approach to the development of the website they will manage to make it work because they will focus first and foremost on customer service and focus heavily on their feedback. Mohammed believes that customer service is something that is lacking in the region so he plans to do something about it with Grosper.
So what does the future hold for Grosper if it does succeed? I asked Mohammed, he mentioned that he would definitely like to expand to the other emirates in the UAE, Bombay and quite possibly the rest of the MENA region. However he did mention something else that caught my attention which was that he would like to setup a Board of Directors with experienced people from the region in the industry in order to aid and provide assistance for his startup, however he was unable to do so yet.
What do you think of Grosper? Do you think the idea will work in Dubai? Let us know your thoughts.