This article was published on February 15, 2011

So you think you could build your own Groupon?

So you think you could build your own Groupon?
Niall Harbison
Story by

Niall Harbison

Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the world and engage with their customers using the free tools available to them.

I get asked about 3 times a week by people if we could help them start their own Groupon.

I also hear at least ten people a month say what a simple concept Groupon was and how they wish they could have done it themselves. Money for nothing. The average person doesn’t think they could start a Facebook or a Twitter but for some reason we all think we should have started Groupon but is that really realistic?

There is no doubt that the best ideas that generate money are very simple but just because the concept is a basic one does that mean that any one of us could just go out and set up a company like Groupon? Lets have a look at what it takes…

Could You Do All Of The Following?

Actually physically go out and quit your job to start the business.

Put together a business plan to raise the $1million needed to take it from an idea in your head to an actual business

Be smart enough to use PR to be tagged “the fastest growing company in the world ever” and generate world wide press coverage

Spend millions per month on ads to acquire subscribers.

Face down massively aggressive tactics from it’s competitors.

Raise a $135 million dollars in first major funding round.

Within 3 years launch your business in to United States, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Greece, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Poland, Turkey, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Romania including putting people on the ground, negotiating rents, setting up new companies in each country, bank accounts, different taxation rates and generally lots of headaches that opening in new countries brings.
Raise $950 million in funding including all the legal documents and checks you would have to go through to be given close to a billion dollars in cash.

Acquire your biggest emerging competitors in markets like Japan and Russia

Set up your own Groupon academy to improve your staff.

Attract over 50 million subscribers and manage the processes that come with sending out 50 million emails ever single day.

Have the balls to turn down huge offers ranging from $3 billion to $10 billion from companies like Yahoo and Google because you believe you could take the company even further.

Buy superbowl ads for $3 million dollars a pop

Still Think Groupon Is A Simple Idea?

The list if stuff above is only the tip of the iceberg when you talk about running a company, the headline figures. I know I wouldn’t have the skill to execute like Groupon have and I live and breath this space day in day out. I really think the guys who founded Groupon need a little bit more credit than they have been given and people need to stop thinking that it’s an easy business model to copy and that they should have come up with the idea. People will have success copying the format and already have but as for “doing a Groupon” that is just not going to happen.

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