Groupon SA CEO talks group buying

Like a real tech entrepreneur, Wayne Gosling rushes into Vida apologising for being late. It’s only a few minutes after 2pm. He plunks himself down, looks at me as says “can I get you another coffee?”. The lunch time rush is just dissipating as we settle in for “our chat” as the Groupon South Africa CEO refers to it.

Gosling is a little frazzled. Two mobile phones in hand, both ringing nonstop, “I will just turn these off,” he says. “Things are mad right now.” Of course. Groupon SA is the newly formed branch of the group buying giant Groupon. Gosling’s company Twangoo was recently acquired by the juggernaut after a few hoop jumping and emailing. Success doesn’t mean a calmer time it seems.

We settled in, to find out more about the man and the company and the future of group buying.

Memeburn: What prompted you to start Twangoo?
Wayne Gosling: Dan [Guasco] & I studied together. 2008 CT school of business… 2009 did other projects we were both interested in tech. Twangoo was one of our projects and it took off.

MB: Is it now officially known as Groupon SA or is it still referred to as Twangoo?
WG: Definitely Groupon.

MB: What’s the hardest thing about running a collective buying effort?
WG: Structuring a deal to benefit the merchant as well as our members

MB: What does the Groupon sale mean to you personally?
WG: So much. I’ve always hoped for entrepreneurial success in one way or another. This may serve as a sign that I’m heading in the right direction. Although Dan and I consider ourselves fortunate to have been chosen, 2010 was a tough slog to get to where we did. Nice to know that has paid off.

MB: Is collective buying a trend that is likely to last?
WG: I think it will. I’m sure it will be in different guises in future though. Industry specific potentially maybe? Groupon of today will be different to Groupon in the future. It will change. It’ll get more efficient. It will be more intuitive in meeting the customer’s needs.

MB: Do you think collective buying can be considered social media?
WG: Nope, Social media is integral to its success however.

MB: Does Twangoo have any plans to expand into other African countries?
WG: Twangoo doesn’t, Groupon [the parent company] sure does, Africa expansion is in the works but not through us.

MB: What is the best deal you’ve had on the site?
WG: We’ve had a few get close to 1 500 in a day – Aqua restaurant, Simply Spa. Hair deals in JHB work very well

MB: Talk to us about the numbers of the Groupon deal?
WG: [laughs] Sorry can’t.

MB: What is your favourite social media tool?
WG: Facebook definitely. Proves the easiest and best way to interact with our members. Find out what deals they want, which cities are the most active and such.

MB: Any competitors you’re worried about?
WG: Sure, all great sites have competitors. Wicount got us going in SA with the concept

MB: When you finally get the chance, how will you relax?
WG: I have a trip coming up to the US. I am going to go snowboarding with some friends and hopefully switch my phones off. I hope I can. It will be nice to just chill for a while.

MB: Are you an iPhone, Blackberry or an Android man?
WG: Blackberry

MB: Who do you follow on Twitter?
WG: Yuppie Chef, Dave Duarte, Memeburn, Robstokes and of course Groupon_ZA.

MB: How often do you check twitter?
WG: Once in the morning I am not a huge twitterer

MB: When you wake up in the morning what do you check first? Email? Social networks or mobile?
WG: Mobile – only because its closest to my bed

MB: Do you own an iPad?
WG: Nope



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