Deal-browsing site MyDealPage.ie is our tech start-up of the week. Brothers Charles and Chris Maltha set up the website one year ago, bootstrapping it themselves, and they have just brought out a smartphone app for users to find deals in their areas using GPS functionality.
MyDealPage.ie itself works by collating daily deals from sites such as GrabOne, LivingSocial, Groupon and Pigsback.com. The idea is to give people one platform to check out offers and discounts on everything from car kits to beauty vouchers and hotel getaways without having to trawl through individual sites.
And it appears to be going well for the duo.
“We have had an exciting first year running and evolving our service,” explains Charles. “That’s one of the great features of operating online; you can really become established in a short period if people embrace the idea.”
He says that MyDealPage.ie is now getting daily traffic of around 25,000 click-throughs.
As for the type of deals people are seeking out, Maltha says that when the site kicked off it was predominantly hotels, restaurants and beauty deals that was on users’ minds.
“Nowadays you can find pretty much anything from handyman services to kite surfing lessons. Back in May 2011 we displayed an average of 65 deals, today there are over 220 deals available.”
The way the model works is the brothers get the information on daily deals from sites such as Groupon and Boards Deals.
“We receive a commission with the deal sites for the sales we achieve for them, but the service to the customer is absolutely free.
“We analyse the data and our system categorises it so that users of MyDealPage will only find active and live daily deals."
Leaving corporate banking
It was back in 2010 that Charles decided to leave his job in corporate banking when he saw a niche to concentrate on the blossoming daily deals space.
He set up his first venture to focus on the area, but he says it soon became difficult to keep track of all the different deals on the various sites out there every single day.
“In early January 2011 I approached my brother Chris, who has been coding since his early teenage days, with the idea of building a directory site for daily deals. When the site launched it instantly gained momentum,” explains Charles.
He says that Chris’s software expertise has been pivotal to the how the business has evolved.
“Having the IT experience in-house means that things get done the way we want them and when we need them.”
And, while Ireland is their core marketplace, the brothers have also set up the service for people to find deals in other European countries such as the UK, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Denmark.
“We want to cement our presence in Ireland, which is our flagship,” says Charles, “but we’ve learned what the market wants and we can replicate the model.”
Plus, they have now brought out a MyDealPage iPhone and Android app for people to look for deals while they are on the move.
The app made its debut on the App Store on 9 May, and so far the response has been positive, according to Maltha.
“The app is No. 1 in the iTunes Lifestyle category and it reached 12th place overall with thousands of people downloading it in the first week alone.”
The decision to develop the apps, he says, was down to user trends and market changes. In April, for instance, 19pc of MyDealPage’s traffic came from a mobile device,with over 65pc of visits coming from an Apple device such as an iPhone or iPad.
‘Near Me’ function
And the brothers have embedded GPS functionality into the app so that people can filter deals by location and type.
“Using the “Near Me function you can find offers specific to your GPS location. So if you’re looking for a restaurant nearby you can use the built-in filters to only display ‘food & drink’ deals for instance.”
He says that for the next version of the app they hope to bring it out in different languages such as French and German.
“It will also include other helpful features such as reminder capabilities and a voucher wallet”
They have entirely bootstrapped MyDealPage themselves since last year, an approach that Charles feels is important when you’re a start-up.
“To date we have funded the entire operation with our own money,” he says. “When you invest your own money it not only demonstrates that you believe in the product you are providing but it also makes you think smart about how you spend that money.
"I learned from my first venture what’s important to spend on and what can be done without. First grow your turnover and proof that your concept works, then add all the other expenses that enhance your business.”
As for challenges, he says that when they set up last year, a number of other competing sites popped up.
“You have to stay sharp and ensure people prefer your service and, if not, quickly adapt. As you have limited resources you need to make strategic decisions and understand what’s important now and what to invest in later. We very much apply the 80-20 rule so that time and money is spent on what matters and not on small enhancements.”
The plan for 2012, Maltha says, is to get established in other countries.
“We will also continue to work on the product itself and introduce new helpful features for the website, newsletter and app.”
And his advice for other start-ups out there is to look at the opportunities to start an online venture.
“More people are spending online and this can only increase in the future with the rapid integration of smartphones and cheaper internet. I don’t think our business would have been possible several years ago as people weren’t as concerned about spending and the social and online community wasn’t as large as it is today,” explains Maltha.
He also advises people to be realistic about the growth pattern of their business and how they are going to achieve it.
"When they start out many only concentrate on the product but forget about how they will introduce it to the market. Figure out what makes people want to use your product or service and how it will attract new visitors.
"Also an important aspect is to think of a suitable revenue model. Simply relying on banner advertising might not be the best source of income," he adds.