In today’s Latin Interactive World, Portada interviewed Gerardo Giacomán (photo), CEO of Cuponzote, the online coupon site started in the Mexican city of Monterrey. The site now covers all of Mexico and is beginning to extend its reach to South America, and soon the United States.

Name:  Cuponzote

Investors:  Team of founders

Concept:  Discount coupons for the local market

Headquarters:  Monterrey

Other offices:  Mexico City and Guadalajara

Operations:  Mainly in Mexico, but beginning to establish a presence in South America

Employees:  30

Cuponzote is a Mexican coupon and discount site for shopping and services, with an emphasis on the local market and segmented by cities.  The site has had an extensive impact in Mexico, according to CEO Gerardo Giacomán: "We have surpassed the 300,000 mark of subscribed users.  More than 50,000 users have made a transaction through the site.  We have more than 900 different affiliated businesses that are working with us, many of them repeat customers.  Our customers and users are becoming regulars on the site."

Sights trained on South America and the U.S.

Following its success in Mexico, Cuponzote is already thinking about extending its business to South America, where it is already collaborating with the Startup Chile program.  Today, Cuponzote is operating in the Southern Cone through companies that contact the site directly from there, but there is a need for more, says Giacomán.  "We provide limited service to South American cities and are planning a larger launch so we can go there to pitch the advantages of our platform."

Regarding the United States, Cuponzote wants to target not only its natural market, which would be Hispanic, but the entire U.S. market. "We have a sister project is the works to target the U.S. market, but it would not necessarily have the same name, nor necessarily be in Spanish. We want to capture a wider market," says Giacomán.

Cuponzote’s virality

Cuponzote’s advertising strategy has involved both search engines and social networks.  "We do promotion in search engines like Google and Yahoo, plus some display.  But what has worked well for us has been organic growth through social networks.  For example, in Mexico City we’ve attracted 2,000 fans and in Monterrey, which is where we started, we have over 50,000.   It has worked very well; people are very interested in sharing what they find on our page," he said.

To launch the company’s efforts on social networks, Cuponzote has also used Facebook ads under a strategy that seeks to promote the virality of its concept, rather than the site’s products. "We’ve run (Cuponzote) campaigns, but with a focus on increasing viralilty? not on directly marketing the products," says Giacomán. 

100% Mexican and ready to take on 2012

Cuponzote was founded in Monterrey by a group of Mexican investors.  Since then, it has remained independent and without outside investors, which has led it to compete with several foreign companies that are more highly funded. "We did not start out raising millions and millions in capital, but have been somewhat more conservative, looking at what works in the market. Now that we have a good idea of what works, this promises to be a very interesting year for us,” he said.

Regarding the company’s goals for 2012, Giacomán tells Portada: "Our first goal for 2012 is to consolidate our position in Mexico and make the jump to South America.  We want to finish the year with a robust operation in at least a couple of cities in the region."

Finally, regarding the environment for startups in Mexico, Giacomán recognizes some limitations: "There is no robust local ecosystem that can support Mexican companies in achieving accelerated growth and expanding their business abroad."

Gerardo Giacomán is a founding partner and CEO of Cuponzote.  He was previously Management Consultant at Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group, and an investment analyst at LIGE Administraciones.

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