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(Founder Stories) Thrillist’s Ben Lerer On Buying Customers And Going Up Against Groupon

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Founder Stories host Chris Dixon continues his conversation with Thrillist Co-founder and CEO Ben Lerer by discussing customer acquisition.

Recognizing the line of thought that it’s not optimal to pay for customers, Dixon inquires about Lerer’s customer acquisition strategy and says, “a lot more tech businesses including Groupon and including I believe Thrillist are actually built … a large part though paid customer acquisition, running ads and doing other things to get people to subscribe, right?

Lerer responds by saying, “That is true, we always have been driven first and foremost by organic growth, but the beautiful thing about some of these new businesses, a Groupon or a Gilt or any of these new models is that they can really be data driven so you understand the lifetime value of your users.” Continuing with, “if you are able to go and buy a lot of those $2 dollar users . . . and they keep being worth $10, you can go and build a really big business very rapidly.”

Moving forward with the Groupon theme in the video below, Dixon brings up the at-large conversation surrounding “how defensible these business are” and asks “how do businesses like this create sustainable assets?”

Lerer notes the strength of Groupon’s local sales team and brand recognition, before pointing that there are challenges. Circling the conversation back to his own company Lerer says, “I don’t look at local as something that if we did as a stand-alone business something that I would be all that excited about. The reason I think we are a really good fit to have some local commerce is because we already have the consumers in place … and we already have scale in the markets we are going into.”

Look for past episodes of Founder Stories here, including Part I and Part II of Lerer’s interview, as well as interviews with Gilt’s Kevin Ryan