Roland Gropmair is an experienced IT project manager and technology consultant with more than 15 years industry experience. He has worked with several Fortune 500 companies in Europe, US and Canada. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), holds a degree in Technical Computer Science and has lived and worked in San Francisco, Munich, Dusseldorf and Dublin. Most recently, he has been working as an iPhone developer, creating mobile apps such as and the official UNICEF Ireland "Euro for Zero" app. He is the co-founder and CEO of geoDealio, a service that lets users find deals and discounts based on their location. He spoke to YourStory about his venture and journey so far.Business proposition
Many businesses display their current deals on posters or chalkboards located outside their premises. This is particularly true for short term or last minute deals. Therefore potential customers need to physically walk past the business premises to see the current deals and specials.
geoDealio makes it easy for these businesses to far extend the reach of these advertisements beyond the front door of the premises and into the pockets of many potential customers.
geoDealio is a web service and smart phone application to deliver real time location based deals and bargains to users based on their current location. The service allows a business to quickly and easily advertise deals to customers by simply logging into the website or by sending a tweet or text message. These deals are then made instantly available to all geoDealio users.
Using either the geoDealio website or more likely the geoDealio smart phone application, users can see and get directions to the best deals on offer near their current location. With Facebook, twitter and email integration, users can vote for deals they like and recommend deals to their friends. This provides an important rating and feedback mechanism to geoDealio allowing us to rank good deals.
How did geoDealio come about?
The concept was developed by John Fitzpatrick early 2010, and the team formed at the Dublin Startup Weekend in May 2010. A prototype demo and basic business plan was presented to the judging panel, and we won the competition! After that, we applied for a coaching programme called NDRC LaunchPad. It also gave us funding and incubation space for a few months, and made sure we could work full-time as a team on the project.
We worked with our mentor to specify the service and business proposal in more detail. Through feedback from a number of businesses we added and prioritized functionality. A Business Plan along with financial projections and a sales/marketing concept was developed.
As part of the market research phase, we developed a functioning prototype. On that basis, we got several pilot customers who gave us feedback on the offering and how they would use it. This feedback was used to enhance the system and we now have a stable deployed platform.
We launched a beta variant of the service in Ireland before Christmas. That included two smartphone apps (iPhone and Android), and of course a website for consumers to find deals. It also included a Merchant Dashboard for merchants to sign up and post deals. Over the next few months the Dashboard was enhanced, for instance with a feature to post deals with twitter (just by adding #dealio to your tweet), a feature that was requested by several business customers.
Currently we have a number of business users signed up to the service and an increasing number of consumers using the smartphone applications and website. The next step is to execute on our marketing plan to greatly increase both our user base and business customers.
Looking back, I think it's fair to say that team dynamics was very important for us to reflect on where we are and what the next steps should be. We were able to bounce off ideas and had a 'built-in' sounding board when it came to changes and innovations. Yes, you do involve pilot customers when building a service, but you should also have a team to discuss ideas at an early stage, before you talk to customers. You could not do this if you work on a startup on your own.
I think the most important lesson we learned is to always look at your project from a business point of view. We all have an IT/engineering background, and therefore it's tempting to just say 'that's a cool feature, let's do that'. The most important question you need to answer is - would it make the service more compelling, more useful for your target audience? And at the end of the day, is it easier to convince an investor to give you funding?
What makes geoDealio different from other deal related sites?
Most existing deal advertising services such as Groupon, Citydeals and LivingSocial require the users to purchase group vouchers or coupons. These vouchers are then only valid if some minimum number of people takes up the deal. This process requires forethought from the user about where they will be and what type of deal they want to avail of.
geoDealio on the other hand, provides real time information about a range of deals in a user’s current location; the use case is therefore quite different. Unlike other services, the focus of the deals being advertised through geoDealio is not limited to users of geoDealio, they are deals which the business has on offer to all customers. geoDealio simply provides an easy and novel way for these deals to be advertised and for users to find the deals. Of course it is our vision that these deals can be augmented with higher value deals only available to geoDealio users.
By combining a location aware application with the real time communication mechanisms of twitter and SMS, geoDealio allows businesses to add new deals quickly and at a moment’s thought. This is particularly appealing for small businesses (“long tail”) that on a particular evening may want to drum up some extra business by putting on a special deal.
Check out geoDealio here : http://www.geodealio.com/