Starting a Deals Website
Interview with DeaLoco.com Co-founder Steve Cospolich
Finding deals on the web can be a pain. While there are many deal sites out there, Steve Cospolich and his friends saw an opportunity to improve on the status quo. That's what led to the creation of DeaLoco.com.
The folks at DeaLoco.com, are crazy about deals.
The DeaLoco.com team and its many users search far and wide each day to deliver the best deals available.
We interviewed Steve Cospolich, one of the DeaLoco.com co-founders to find out how he got started and what he's learned along the way.
Steve, tell us about DeaLoco.com. How does it work?
Basically, we search the Internet every day seeking out deals from reputable retailers and post the best deals we find for our users on our DeaLoco.com deals site.
Our deals have wide appeal and run the gamut from diapers to plasma TVs. We've put a lot of focus on making the site user-friendly, and to that end we provide product reviews, price comparison information and a "Grief Factor" alongside each deal.
The Grief Factor is a 1 through 5 rating that lets our users know at a glance the difficulty involved in pulling off the deal. For example, a deal that requires a mail-in-rebate will have a high Grief Factor rating.
We are based in Dallas, Texas. The website launched officially in January of 2008.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
There are four founding partners of DeaLoco, LLC.
All of us still maintain full-time day jobs in addition to our duties running the startup. Three of us are IT security consultants and the fourth is a business continuity consultant. This is our first business.
Where did you get the startup capital for the company?
We are 100% self-funded.
Who are the competitors in this space?
The "deal site" field is a pretty crowded niche. The big players are slickdeals.net and fatwallet.com. We are long-time users of both of those sites. However, we noticed both cater to a tech-savvy audience. We saw an opportunity to create an easy-to-use site that would benefit anyone and everyone.
A key feature of our site is that we provide our users with all the pertinent information needed to make an informed purchasing decision. We track down product reviews and price comparison data for each deal, and in doing so, we are taking the legwork out of bargain hunting. Another standout feature of DeaLoco is our 'Power Search'. Users can perform these advanced searches using a variety of criteria such as a particular model number, a price range, or even whether or not the deal includes free shipping.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
We initially expected this would be an "if you build it, they will come" experience. Turns out we were clueless -- marketing is everything. Launching a site in such a crowded niche makes building traffic even more challenging.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
From a business perspective, not really. From a technical perspective, we ended up making a major revision to the site's back-end about halfway through the build process. We had the sudden realization that we were making things unnecessarily complex, and worked quickly to resolve the issue.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
We hired a marketing/SEO firm. They helped us create a press release, which we issued through PRWeb for $80. That release ended up getting us a feature on the 10pm news in Dallas. Traffic went through the roof the moment the segment aired! They have also helped get us started with social media marketing (i.e. facebook, twitter, stumbleupon, etc..).
As for offline marketing, we entered a float in this year's Dallas St. Patrick's Day parade. We even purchased straightjacket costumes and crazy green wigs for all of the participants. It was a great time, and turned out to be a good way of getting our name out locally.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Do your homework. When trying to enter a crowded niche, you've got to be especially aware of your competitors, and know your limits. We won't be overtaking Slickdeals' Alexa ranking anytime soon, but we remain persistent and are keeping focused on our own goals.
That's great advice. Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, and good luck in growing your business. The next time we are in the market to buy something we'll be sure to use your site!
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