Small Business Spotlight of the Week: Coupon Cactus Amanda | October 26th, 2011
If there’s one thing I regret about myself, I wish I were better at clipping coupons. In my dreams, after sitting at a sunny table finding deals galore in the Sundays, I go to the supermarket and I buy $250 worth of groceries for approximately -$23.57. That’s right, in my dreams, I’m into extreme couponing. Obviously, a few problems present themselves with this scenario. One, I don’t get the newspaper , two, I believe everything should be available online, and three, I’m lazy.
And, with Coupon Cactus, my dreams have (partially) come true. Unlike Groupon, Living Social or other coupon sites that require you to buy in with a bunch of people, Coupon Cactus simply organizes all sorts of online deals. The website is broken into categories, ranging from “Auto, Boat, & Motorcycle” to “Musical Instruments.” About to buy something online? Stop by CouponCactus first and see if there’s not a deal out there for what you want to purchase. No clipping required.
Scott, being the good sport that he is, took some time to talk to me about coupon dreams:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
CouponCactus.com is an online coupon and cash back shopping website. You know those coupon code and promo code boxes you see when you are checking out while ordering something online? We have coupons like “25% off your order” and “free shipping” for about 4,000 online merchants. We also provide cash back on your purchases just like a cash back credit card, only with higher percentages.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
We already had a logo but it just wasn’t doing it for us, so we decided to add a mascot. We wanted something fun and interactive, but professional. We had worked with many great graphic designers in the past but we couldn’t describe exactly what we were looking for and we would only know it when we actually saw it. We didn’t want to wind up in a never-ending back and forth exchange of changes costing lots of money and never being totally happy with the result. We decided to crowdsource the project and found exactly what we were looking for. You can see Coupon Cody on our sign-up page.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
There are quite a few competitors in both the online coupon and cash back arenas, so differentiating ourselves from our competition is always a challenge. We pride ourselves at having the best coupons and the highest cash back rates but we needed to go further. What was missing out there was a site that showed they cared about their members by responded to their inquiries immediately, with empathy, and basically have their back when it came to finding them the coupons they needed and contacting merchants when cash back was not awarded.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
Balancing the creation of a great site with the necessity of Search Engine Optimization. When you create a site, you want it to be the best looking site with the greatest usability, but if nobody comes to visit then it is all in vain. However, designing a site completely around SEO can be ugly and unfriendly. Since nobody is giving away their secrets, striking this balance tends to be an exercise in learning the hard way.
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
This might not be the craziest of the things to have happened to us but it was one of those wild coincidences that made our day. One day we received a customer support email about a missing cash back check. For some reason this Coupon Cactus member’s check got lost in the mail and never arrived. So we told her not to worry, we’ll just send out a new one. When it was going out in the mail we realized that it was my father’s next door neighbor. My father didn’t know her well and never told her about the site. It was a great feeling knowing that our site was reaching all across the country and then coming back to us. If it continues then maybe one day, not knowing that my brother David and I created Coupon Cactus, someone will say to me “Hey, if you are buying something online, make sure to check out CouponCactus.com before checking out online, it’s a great site!”
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
There were a few times when we got caught up in the now and stopped thinking toward the future. I would make sure not to take my eyes off the ball again. Online businesses are constantly changing and if you don’t keep up, you end up playing catch up. Once that happens it is difficult to get ahead of the curve again.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
We currently focus on online coupons but we will be launching printable in-store coupons and grocery coupons in the next two months. We see CouponCactus.com becoming a household name and a bookmark in everyone’s browser. Not only the last stop consumers make before checking out online, but the place to go to avoid paying full retail on anything!
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Don’t wallow in the small stuff.