When the daily-deals business model became popular a few years ago, Gary Lipovetsky and Michael Tulman jumped at the chance to turn their local restaurant-directory site into something larger.
Lipovetsky and Tulman had successfully run MenuPalace.com for 13 years, before starting Dealfind in 2010. Now, Dealfind is the third largest group-buying company, according to Daily Deal Media. It's second only to Groupon in Canada.
Here’s what they did to transform their company to take advantage of the daily-deals trend.
Figure out your strengths
MenuPalace.com wasn’t a huge company. But Lipovetsky and Tulman knew they had a big advantage for working with merchants because they knew what was important to business owners.
“Knowing what the merchant is looking for in terms of getting people in, up-selling, getting those people to come back, that was really important,” says Lipovetsky. “Knowledge of the merchants’ needs gave us an edge above our competition, above what our larger competitors do.”
Understand what you need to do differently
Their expertise was in advertising restaurants, but Lipovetsky knew they couldn’t focus exclusively on restaurant deals if they wanted to compete with the big players. They wanted to attract a variety of interests.
“I don’t think it would be feasible to strictly run restaurant deals because then we wouldn’t have retained as many loyal customers as we did,” said Lipovetsky. Although restaurants are a focus for the site, Dealfind currently offers deals on a variety of different products and services.
Find the best team
Lipovetsky says one of the biggest drivers of Dealfind’s growth is the talented team he and Tulman put together, especially on the executive level. Dealfind’s C-suite includes executives with experience at big companies like Sirius XM, IBM and Kobo.
Early on in the first stages of the company, Lipovetsky, CEO, and Tulman, co-founder, turned to their network of contacts to recruit people.
“I believe it’s always really important to know a lot of people,” says Lipovetsky. “We were able to get some talent together through people we knew from business and friends, and that really helped a lot.”
Although Lipovetsky started Dealfind in the middle of a recession, he says it was hardly a factor. The down economy was just like any other business adversity a person encounters when they’re trying to start a company.
“There’s no such thing as an easy business, or everyone in the world would be wealthy,” says Lipovetsky. “If you've got 10 problems to deal with in a day, the biggest challenge is to handle these challenges and simultaneously run the company and keep everybody motivated."
Know your market
Dealfind has expanded from offering discounts to selling goods like electronics in the last year. But Lipovetsky says it was a natural progression, based on what customers said they wanted.
“We didn’t really innovate,” says Lipovetsky. “We saw what our competitors were doing, we saw consumer demand for these various verticals and we produced them.”
Dealfind also regularly surveys their customers to get ideas for new products.
Photo credit: Gary Lipovetsky