Posted by admin@theupgroup |
What is Keynoir? What is innovative about it?
Keynoir is a private members club that treats it members to great discounts on fantastic restaurant, hotel, spa, wellness, and event brands like: Tom Aiken, Hempel Hotel, Austique, Melt Chocolate, Milly Vanilli, Polo in the Park, and Scin Spa.
When did you set up Keynoir & why?
I wanted to get more for my money, and love going to new places. There was an opportunity to get enough people to buy on the same day and get fantastic discounts on cool places.
You have already received funding from Index Ventures and ProFounders Capital. How did you manage to secure this prior to the launch of the product?
My co-founders and I worked really hard on both the business plan and the market position. We picked a good sector, and were very focused in our approach. Having an experienced team also really helpful in giving the investors comfort in investing.
How has the concept been received so far and what are the plans for further development?
The concept has gone through several iterations, another new one will launch next week. We have some great secret plans, so you will have to watch this space, but the open one is that we are integrating Facebook login, to help you know what your friends are doing and buying.
What will be the secret to the success of a Keynoir model – presumably, it will be the quality of the product/offers you are selling? If so, is there enough supply in the market?
We think that the secret to the success of Keynoir is to focus on the member. You can see our member promise on the site, and we really live it. As an example we helped on merchant re-negotiate their shipping costs to ensure that our members go their orders on time.
What are the pros and cons of the current group-buying market?
Well, we see ourselves more in the private members club than the group buying set. I guess that the cons are that there are huge volumes of people who want to get into the space. Technically it is simple to put a site up, but practically it is hard to do it well.
US based group-buying model Groupon has received a $135million fourth round of financing. How does this affect Keynoir and what does it tell you about the potential in the European market for this concept?
Keynoir is pitched at the aspirational end of the market, think of us as the Ocado or Wholefoods of the market. I am happy that Groupon has just purchased myCityDeal, as it is good to have ethical people in the market.
You have run online businesses previously, can you tell us about your background?
My online background started with a company called Firesend, which was an express parcels price comparison. Unfortunately, we were 6 or 7 years ahead of our time. I then ran Kelkoo UK until we sold Kelkoo to Yahoo, then took a variety of roles in Yahoo including RVP Yahoo Northern Europe. Went back to Kelkoo as the CEO to help find it a new home, and became an independent consultant in March 2009. Finally, been working on Keynoir since early December 2009.
Any advice on how to build a great internet business?
I think the advice must be the same as building a great offline business: work hard, stay true to your customers, hire the best you can afford, and be honest with everyone.
What are the benefits of a VC-backed start-up? What are the downsides?
The best thing about VC backed start-ups is that they can give you real advice, having seen many start up situations before, also they can introduce you to many helpful people, and let’s not forget the money
On the cons are that you have to give up some of the control in the business, and have to be willing to listen—both of which seem a low price to pay.