Thursday, March 24, 2011

GetInToo Interview with Greg Walding

GetInToo is a new auction site that is an entertainment shopping but NOT a penny auction.

GetInToo follows the concept of a Unique Bid Auction, which is a great auction model that is fun and exciting. I think the site will grow really well in the future and the concept is very interesting.

I had the chance to interview Greg Walding, Co-founder and President of GetInToo and I am posting it here. I hope it makes for an interesting read. The auction model is unique and I am sure at least some of you will really like it and hopefully join the site.

Sid: GetInToo is a lowest unique bid auction. Can you briefly explain what this means?
Greg Walding: This is a no reserve, sealed bid, lowest single unique bid wins auction. So when a certain number of bids are reached the auction closes. Whoever has the lowest unique bid wins.

Sid: From the point of view of the auction bidders, what advantages do you see for this auction model as compared to penny auction?
Greg Walding: It’s more competitive and less wasteful. Every bidder has a strategic opportunity to win, not just the person with the deepest pockets. Also our model of “no bid is wasted” allows users to use their bids again if they don’t win.

Sid: And what about disadvantages?
Greg Walding: Our auctions don’t have the casino like action that penny auctions have. They have the countdown timers so their action is more interactive. Also, our profit margins are lower than theirs but we are okay with making small profits on each auction instead of gross profits like they do. In the end we’ll win.

Sid: Would you say that in a general case, GetInToo will give better discounts than penny auctions?
Greg Walding: Absolutely, and the reason is not only because of our lowest unique wins system, but also how our purchase credit system works. When users buy bids from us they also get a corresponding amount of purchase credits. When they win, we simply deduct the winning bid amount and ship the product. The only costs to users is the bids, no separate billing for their winning amount and shipping & handling.

Sid: GetInToo is unique in the sense that the losing bids can be reused, is that correct?
Greg Walding: Essentially, yes. Let’s say a user bids 5 times on a laptop and those 5 bids do not win. When that auction closes, they will get an email that notifies them that they did not win the auction but their account has been credited with 5 voucher bids to use again.

Sid: How are you able to offer such a unique feature that no penny auction can ever offer?
Greg Walding: We close our auctions based in predetermined number of purchased bids. Penny auctions close when the timer reaches 0. They don’t know how many bids they’ll receive on each item but we do so we can control our ability to give customers more than they can.

Sid: Currently, the auctions are the same whether you use originally bought bids or reused bids. Do you plan to differentiate them in the future, i.e. have auctions exclusively for the reused bids and exclusively for the first time use bids?
Greg Walding: Not at this time. We want to keep true to our model that every user will have an opportunity to use their bids until they win (for up to a year) and use them on any auction. We might change this based on consumer demand though. We listen closely to our customers and want to respond to what they want if it’s possible.

Sid: Do you plan to disclose how many bids were placed by the winner? This might help know the percentage savings on each auction by the winner.
Greg Walding: We might do that but our system is so different with how our purchase credits and voucher bid systems work that it’s not really necessary. Our customers know the incredible value we provide and we just don’t want to disclose too much information so that copy cat sites don’t pop up or our competitors try to change their models to work like ours. We want to be the only auction site like ours in the world.

Sid: In this auction model, are past auctions a good indication of what the unique bid for the current auction will be?
Greg Walding: Sure but there are so many more strategies than meets the eye. Developing a strategy to bid based on historical data is good but users might want to combine that with other strategies. Our users are tighter lipped on the strategy they use to win than your typical penny auction for some reason.

Sid: What are your thoughts on the general penny auction model?
Greg Walding: I like it believe it or not. The only problem with the penny auction is that for every winner there are potentially hundreds and maybe even thousands of losers who wasted bids. That’s our target customer. If they lose, they don’t have to buy more bids (they can and most of our customers do) on our auction platform.

Sid: Are you aware of any other websites that use the same lowest unique bid auction?
Greg Walding: We are sure there is plenty of competition, but we focus on building our business and do not worry about that right now.

Sid: What do you think is the most important aspect that differentiates GetInToo from all other ‘entertainment shopping’ auctions?
Greg Walding: Our replacement voucher bid and purchase credit systems.

Sid: I see that at GetInToo the products get a fixed price from the bids irrespective of the bidding patterns, unlike a penny auction. Would you say that as a business, this is much more stable the riskier penny auctions where the initial days can potentially yield huge losses?
Greg Walding: Absolutely. We can make a small profit or breakeven on every auction whereas the penny auctions can go broke on their first day or if they lose volume at anytime. I believe that is the biggest reason why you see so many complaints about bidding bots, shill bidding and all that. The penny auction as a business doesn’t work unless you have massive amounts of people buying bids. We can grow slowly but always remain profitable to give our customers the great features we have available plus an entertaining way of shopping!

Sid: Your auction model seems well suited to allow sellers to sell their own items, since they get a full retail. Are you considering this option for the future? This might distinguish you from penny auctions as well.
Greg Walding: We talked about that and it is something we may do in the future but for now we are sticking to the new items sold by us.

Sid: How long has GetInToo been running?
Greg Walding: Since Jan 28, 2011.

Sid: At GetInToo, the auctions seem to end when a final price is reached instead of ending by a clock. How long do auctions typically run for?
Greg Walding: It just depends on how many people are bidding and what item it is. Gift cards go quickly (sometimes within hours) and larger ticket items usually go within a day right now. As our registrations grow the auctions will close faster and faster. You have to crawl before you walk.

Sid: You seem to have many great electronic items but fewer gift cards, quite unlike penny auctions. Is there any reason for this?
Greg Walding: We have gift cards but we don’t want to be known as the gift card auction so we limit those based on demand. We really want to be known for some of the most popular items and we love to get emails from our customers asking us to list a certain item. I had no idea that this Keurig coffee maker thing was so popular but a customer of ours suggested it and we responded “thankfully”!

Sid: Are there any additional features lined up for the short and long terms?
Greg Walding: Short term we have a contest planned. You see we are not backed by venture capital or big investors. We are a bootstrapped start up so we don’t have huge marketing budgets. We are started a Viral Video Marketing Contest that will accomplish 2 things for us. First, we’ll find the right Director of Social Media & Marketing to interview and bring on board. Second, we’ll have folks making videos that relate to and drive more traffic. We are optimistic about this but we can’t say exactly how successful we’ll be. Someone will win $1000 and 3 people will get an interview because we do need more leadership on the marketing side. We also are implementing a full disclosure bidding system where everyone knows exactly how many bids remaining to close there are.

Sid: So currently you operate in US and Canada. Do you plan to expand in other regions?
Greg Walding: Not right now, we’re just starting out so visions of world-wide domination are not in our short term goals. Clearly we want to grow our business but we have to start at home first.

Sid: How big is the GetInToo team? Tell us something about the people behind the business.
Greg Walding: Currently we have 5 employees. The two founders run the day to day operations and our support team handles the logistics. Most employees are family members so we be can harder on them and pay them less (just kidding).

Sid: Where do you see GetInToo after say 5 years? Do you have any targets in terms of number of active members or number of completed auctions that you would like to share?
Greg Walding: We like to keep our goals and growth plans close to the vest. We certainly have them and in 5 years we’d like to see over 1M registered users. Our completed auctions goals would be to the point of closing several thousand a day but that’s far off right now. We’re working hard to get there and provide the best customer service possible.

Sid: Have you started other companies before GetInToo?
Greg Walding: Yes, both founders have. Richard’s been a part of growing an insurance company that we took public back in 2003 and he also started an online training company in 2006, and a successful investment management practice in 2008. I started a tech company and own several other websites.

Join GetInToo here


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