Two 25-year-old American entrepreneurs leave the States to launch a Groupon clone…in France?

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I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking: Huh? Wtf ? Why would any Americans in their right mind want to leave the happiest business place on earth to launch anything in France?! Maybe the wine?

Ok, maybe you’re not thinking that. But it doesn’t change the fact that 25-year-old American entrepreneurs Anton Bernstein and Joshua David hopped the Atlantic to launch Groupon clone Lookingo specifically in France. And no, they don’t speak the language (yet !).

One year ago, even before Google officially started going gaga for Groupon, Bernstein and David started getting interested in the Groupon phenomenon. But when they actually started considering what possibilities they had to do something similar in the States, the idea seemed somewhat doomed; Groupon was already pretty much dominating the market and all niche-oriented newcomers seemed destined to remain small. And so the team decided they would start conquering markets void of  Groupon clones (uh, good luck).

 The first market they went to was Australia, which apparently they had never even been before. But what’s not to like about a nice, big English-speaking market? Plus, there were practically no Groupon clones in sight and online ad space was undervalued, unlike in the US.  And so the dynamic duo launched Ouffer – which has saved their users some 8 million Australian dollars, according to the site’s counter.

After Ouffer took off, Bernstein and David started looking around for the next market to attack. Despite a few recent Groupon clones – like Bon-Privé and Dealissime – the French market seemed relatively untouched and online advertisement was once again undervalued. But what really sold the deal was Smart&Co.

For anyone who doesn’t know Smart&Co, it’s the company behind gift package success Smartbox. The founders had been looking for a way to enter the hot daily deal market, which is fairly similar to a lot of the gift packages on Smartbox: trips, spas, restaurants, etc. So once they met up with Bernstein and David, the decision to team up and launch Lookingo seemed more or less obvious.

First off, Smart&Co put €2.5 million into the project right off the bat. Just for the sake of comparison, French competitor Bon-Privé raised €1.5 million in the beginning of the year. But better yet, Smart&Co already has established relationships with some 4,500 restaurants – since they are behind OpenTable-like platform Lafourchette – as well as a number of hotels and spas from running the site Weekendesk. But the icing on the cake is that Smart&Go already has 2.5 million registered users. Therefore, it probably won’t take much for Lookingo to catchup to Groupon, who has 3 million users in France.

Lookingo has now been online for 3 months and has already published 150 deals. And the company’s 30 employees are now preparing to conquer Europe.

When I asked Bernstein about the experience, he mentioned that he was pleasantly surprised by the “budding” French tech community – entrepreneurs and investors alike. Plus, the fact that the French are very web 2.0 savvy with 20 million people on Facebook is another huge plus. But on the downside, France is nonetheless comparatively more expensive in terms of taxes and salaries. And from Bernstein’s experience, the French market is ever-so-slightly slower to adopt new and innovative ideas.

But still, just because there may be Italians moving to Silicon Valley and getting $101K funding with ex-Youtubers in just 19 days doesn’t mean that 25-year-old Americans can’t score €2.5 million to launch Groupon clones in France.

  • http://topsy.com/eu.techcrunch.com/2011/01/21/two-25-year-old-american-entrepreneurs-leave-the-states-to-launch-a-groupon-clone-in-france/?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2 Tweets that mention Two 25-year-old American entrepreneurs leave the States to launch a Groupon clone…in France? -- Topsy.com

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  • http://twitter.com/kevinebaugh kevin ebaugh

    le treason!

  • Joe

    My favorite deal of the day website is http://www.fakeon.com

  • guy

    if they are moderately successful, maybe groupon or google will buy them out – they make money. else if they get wildly successful – both ways they win.

    • Ross

      I’m sure thats what they are trying to do.

    • Ross

      I’m sure thats what they are trying to do.

    • Brigitte Astucieuse

      @guy
      — maybe groupon or google will buy them out —

      Not Groupon. Groupon has already acquired the French offshoot of CityDeals.

    • Brigitte Astucieuse

      @guy
      — maybe groupon or google will buy them out —

      Not Groupon. Groupon has already acquired the French offshoot of CityDeals.

  • Krayziebonz

    there is a groupon like in france named : http://www.dealissime.com

    • Roxanne

      Yes, it is cited in the article.

  • http://jetlib.com/news/2011/01/21/huh-two-25-year-old-americans-launch-a-groupon-clone%e2%80%a6in-france/ Huh? Two 25-Year-Old Americans Launch A Groupon Clone…In France? | JetLib News

    […] Read the rest of this entry » […]

  • http://www.philivix.com mychii

    because they knew groupon has taken the market in america as well.

  • Anonymous

    Why WOULDNT they launch it elsewhere? The “local coupon” idea is dead in the US now for newcomers, just like photo sharing is wrapping up, facebook is dominating the social network along with Twitter.

    Why shouldnt they clone a service that doesn’t exist there and make their money that way?

  • Bob Reid

    I love seeing hustle and execution yield results. FYI: Spain is a great opportunity. Congrats guys.

  • mlstotts

    I wish these guys all the best – anything to disrupt the monopoly in french fashion ecommerce that is Vent-Privee. Spanish site Groupalia launched in 2009 and raised $7m to attack the european market in October (via TechCrunch http://www.crunchbase.com/company/groupalia). does eu.techcrunch.com have an update?

  • http://twitter.com/codecdictionary codecdictionary

    i can give u more than 15 countries names who are using groupon clones..LOL Is this one any special?

    • CharlieA

      TechCrunch is saturated with bitter readers who like to bring everyone down instead of doing anything meaningful of their own. Bitterness and jealousy is a symptom of fear.

  • http://twitter.com/codecdictionary codecdictionary

    i can give u more than 15 countries names who are using groupon clones..LOL Is this one any special?

  • Ba

    What is the significance of them being 25?

  • Ba

    What is the significance of them being 25?

  • Steve Pye

    What’s worse is that the logo looks like it really says “I coke ‘n’ go”

    • Carol Bartz

      somones got devil’s dandruff on the mind

  • http://twitter.com/sizzleindex Gordon Dante Lizard

    i’m going to launch a groupon anti-clone in china, what are you going to do about it? huh huh huh?

  • http://twitter.com/filtize Filtize

    Way to go !

    This is small world ..

  • http://twitter.com/fcseh Frank Cseh

    And two other guys can do it in China and … more

  • Crucial

    Not as exciting as this…

    http://bit.ly/dI3hcF

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1071289524 Oguz Goker

    is there a way to contact with their marketing department?

  • Jasoneowens

    I’m working on a pitchdeck/bplan… Does anyone know how much it cost to build a groupon clone site? Any tips/leads would be appreciated.

  • GroupireStrikesBack

    Groupon should patent its concept and sue its 283 clones around the world!

    • Helen D

      An International patent….Brilliant Idea…Love It !

  • http://twitter.com/shababubba Shahin Xavier Leron

    Hmm does Zimbabwe have groupon or a groupon clone?

    I’m thinking of opening one just so I can put “We saved our users billions of dollars” :D

    Any funding for me :P

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=734407035 Johann Quassowski

      Won’t work anymore, they switched to a dollar-pegged currency, afaik.

  • I Am Rudiger

    Jewish

  • http://twitter.com/patrickupmann Patrick Upmann

    Best storie about this entrepreneurs! Good luck

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