Paul Kenny is a busy man. His group buying website Cobone is racking up $600,000 worth of transactions per month in the electronics vertical alone, with more than 700 promotions on offer. You want a cheap deal? You want it quick and easy? Cobone is just one of 20 players in an increasingly crowded market, but right now, appears to be leading the way.
“I want Cobone to become the largest e-commerce site in the MENA region, and we are very close to doing that. I see Cobone as a one destination to buy anything at a better price than what it is in the market,” says the 28-year-old founder of the company.
The evidence suggests he may just do that, and one day provide a massive windfall for his backers, the Jordanian-based Jabber Internet Group. The company was only launched in July 2010, and within a year had more than 300 businesses on a waiting list to join Cobone, with 750,000 subscribers and 350,000 Facebook fans.
Earlier this year it managed its biggest-ever single deal, when $234,500 was spent in one day for a yacht cruise package. When Cobone ran a deal with Madinat Jumeirah for its Al Qasr brunch, it sold 1,765 coupons in twelve hours generating $100,000. According to Kenny, it was the most amount of money that the Jumeirah Group has ever made on food and beverages in such a short timeframe.
How long the fun will last is another matter. Kenny knows only too well that his group-buying site is placed in a region saturated with similar businesses, his company has wisely started fishing for alternatives.
“We are going to move the company to become a discounted e-commerce site,” says Kenny, adding: “so, you are not going to recognise us primarily as competition to other group-buying sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. Cobone will be its own entity.
“The difference is, unlike daily-deals, the products are permanently there. Instead of having the customers go on the site and look for available deals, they will be able to search for, let’s say, an iPad, and it will be listed there,” he says.
Cobone has recently launched its electronic storefront, for instance, where customers can enjoy best prices on listed Apple products, Samsung items, BlackBerrys, and even electronics accessories.
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