Hey guys! Startup Radius interviewed Frank Goortani, founder of LastCall – a marketplace full of local deals, including last-minute ones. LastCall allows users to save time and money by browsing best fashion, food and activity deals available in your area. LastCall has smart built-in mechanisms that make it easy to find relevant deals based on your previous shopping experience.
Learn how LastCall team utilizes free marketing methods, how they reached a 30% week-over-week growth in such a competitive market, how they use various monetization models at the same time, and more. Enjoy and read below!
Can you tell us about what you are working on? What is LastCall?
LastCall is a marketplace for last minute deals. It is location based, time-sensitive and is built with the “No Spam” mindset meaning it’s designed to learn from users’ preferences and delivers valuable close-by deals to them.
LastCall lets businesses target a specific location for a short time. This means the default target audience of a deal is a small sample and gives more flexibility and autonomy to the Brand Marketing teams. Along with promoting their products, businesses can also use this feature as A/B testing to fine tune their marketing message and product valuation.
LastCall is also real-time. Unlike all other marketing platforms, we offer live actionable analytics on user behaviour towards business deals.
Why are you building this? Was there a particular source of inspiration or money-making idea?
A while back, I was in one of the plazas in downtown Toronto in the afternoon and I saw a person carrying a placard saying “end of day sushi half price” I told myself “There’s no app for that!” and that is how I started working on the Idea.
The idea then evolved into a platform for impulse marketing. A platform that I can shop, eat or do something spontaneously without searching for it for an hour! A platform that understands me and suggests relevant ideas. Without subscribing to too many places and getting spammed. I mean this is 2018! There should be a better way to enjoy impulses AND save money and time!
Time for bragging! How big you are – traffic, users, anything else?
We are still very small and just released our web platform. Our main product is our mobile app which we are planning to launch in the next coming month.
From the content perspective, we have defined 3 major phases for our releases. We have started phase one which is Curated Deals. For this phase, we asked industry experts to use our in-house toolset to find valuable deals from well-known brands and add them to our platform on a daily basis.
The next phase is Exclusive Deal which aims to offer businesses the tools to include their tools in the platform themselves.
We have been receiving very good feedback and growth since we launched. Our average weekly growth has been 30%.
Who are your main competitors, and how good/bad they are?
Depending on how you look at the LastCall idea, you can consider deals and coupons businesses or real-time location-based marketing platforms our competitors. But in our niche intersect of those industries, there are very few players. Namely FeedbackApp in food industry which also launched in Toronto a while back, and in fashion we have the Dote app.
Who uses LastCall? What is your perfect buyer persona?
From partner side – medium size businesses like restaurants and boutiques to large size brands
From customer/end-user side (keep in mind we don’t charge end users) – all types of shoppers. We are targeting millennials who are starting to expand on their spending. Our champions are the smart shop savvy ones who don’t want to miss out on good relevant close-by deals.
Were there any early ‘growth hacks’ or tactics that have contributed to your current success?
We have worked extensively on our in-house toolsets we use for content curation. We also have built APIs for finding the perfect time to share/schedule a deal (like what buffer does for social posts)
Another cool API we are working on is to predict the value of a deal based on it’s product, it’s discount, location, time, content quality, virality, etc. We plan to expose this API to public some time in 2019.
What were some of the biggest challenges while building LastCall early on and how did you solve them?
One of the biggest challenges was the chicken and egg problem. As all other marketplaces we had difficulty finding users vs finding proper content. That helped us shape the way we think about our content and build release phases which I mentioned before.
After going through building infrastructure for curating deals, we realized we are in the business of:
- Finding value
- Delivering value
- Predicting value
Which marketing channels you prefer and why?
Before spending money, make sure you understand the free channels first. Especially SEO. Start with what you understand and ask for help for other parts.
Make sure what you offer has genuine value for your audience. The rest will work for itself.
One last thing: as Ben Horowitz puts it, there are no silver bullets. There are only lead bullets. Lots and lots of lead bullets.
Is LastCall monetized? Why did you choose the current monetization method?
The curated content is completely free. We charge businesses for the exclusive deals they share. There are flexible methods we are adapting for that. As a small business, you can have a free account and “pay as you go” per deal. For bigger numbers we also offer subscription model, and for large enterprises we offer fixed monthly fee.
What are the top 5-10 products/services you use in your company and why do you like them?
- Google cloud
- Elastic Search
Productivity, communications and project management:
Analytics & Data:
- Google Analytics