Feb142011

“Every single person that I knew discouraged me from pursuing this. That goes to show that some things that may not sound like the best business model end up ultimately being that.”

Brad's Deals
Brad Wilson
BradsDeals.com
Founder
Interview by Mike Sullivan

Brad Wilson is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of BradsDeals.com. Brad started BradsDeals while a college student in 2001 and is a recognized online shopping expert and professional bargain-hunter. Brad has appeared as a deal expert on NBC’s The Today Show, Oprah & Friends, MSNBC, The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money and USA Today. Brad has also appeared in scores of local media including Fox Chicago, Fox Cleveland and Fox Milwaukee.

BradsDeals finds and publishes online shopping deals, online coupon codes and in-store printable coupons. BradsDeals has an active coupon for 90% of stores consumers would shop at. The average visitor to the site takes about 90 seconds to find coupons and discounts worth an average of $24 off their order. Stopping at BradsDeals can save you hundreds of dollars per year.
MO:
What can consumers expect when visiting BradsDeals.com?
Brad:
So what’s great about BradsDeals is that we’re trying to be in the news business. So, you know, it’s one thing to get a great deal somewhere, but we’re trying to report on all the great deals that are going on. So you don’t need to just go to Amazon or Overstock.com or Groupon or wherever. Everyday at BradsDeals we’re publishing the top 50 or 100 deals across the Internet. We’re trying to be that one-stop source for everything great deals.
MO:
How does BradsDeals.com generate revenue?

Brad:
We have two revenue streams. One is advertising. You see banners and things like that. That’s really great for anybody. Anyone can do that, and it is a great way to monetize any website that is getting enough traffic. The other is, as we’ve grown, we have layered on performance based revenue sharing. So with certain retailers, if someone buys something by clicking through BradsDeals, we will get a small portion of that sale.
MO:
How are you able to collect such a vast variety of deals on so many different products and services?
Brad:
The huge amount of information is really the business challenge for us. Part of our job is consuming a ton of information every day. We approach it a couple different ways. We have a great editorial team full of experts on shopping and great deals. They’re reviewing a ton of information. We automate certain things in the backend. There is no automation as far as everything is handpicked and written and that kind of thing. There are tools we use to compare prices and help us research. But ultimately, that is what we’re doing the most of is just doing a ton of reading, research, and comparisons and really trying to make sure that something is the best deal. We only publish deals that we can establish are the best. So that’s a pretty high hurdle. That was sort of the opening with the business too. The first generation of comparison shopping was sites like Shopping.com and PriceGrabber. They’re great tools, but they’re very limited. They show you the prices at every store so you can sort it and you can find out what the best price is, but the best price isn’t the best deal. It’s missing a lot of different factors. It’s missing coupons. It’s missing rebates. It’s missing what kind of credit card you use. It’s missing the subjective question of whether or not you’d really want to be shopping at that given store in the first place. Many times you don’t want to be. So, there are a lot of additional layers there. We thought coming at it from a human perspective was the right way to solve it. Ultimately, shopping is incredibly subjective, and we thought that everyone else had been approaching it in a highly automated way, in sort of a robotic, cold way. We thought that human subjectivity was really the key to the puzzle.
MO:
What circumstances took you in the direction of this industry?
Brad:
The great thing about BradsDeals for me is I was doing this for fun before. I do it for fun in my spare time still. Really, it just fits. I must have some inherent frugality or something. This is sort of uniquely suited for my interests. Ultimately, like I said, I was doing this. I’ve always found great deals and things. I’ve always liked that puzzle. I was doing this when I was in college. My friends and the people I was going to school with started finding out about it. Word spread just in a small community. That’s what really sort of inspired me to build a way to tell even more people about it.
MO:
What made you decide to start a business while still in college?
Brad:
Well, one of the things, this was definitely not a business modeled kind of business. I never sat down and had some grand plan. I just found something I liked doing and kept pursuing it, and it just sort of happened. I think that is a pretty good takeaway. I think you’re more apt to find something you like doing and find something you want to spend years of your life devoted to if that is the situation as opposed to if you are sort of seeking out just random other things that you think might sound like they’re a good business model. Every single person that I knew discouraged me from pursuing this. That goes to show that some things that may not sound like the best business model end up ultimately being that. As far as college goes, yeah, it’s interesting to, it is sort of an odd dichotomy to be in school and hang out with kids who are getting drunk on a Wednesday night while you’re trying to start an Internet company. At the same time, it is still like that right now. I have the same friends and they’re probably still getting drunk on Wednesday. It’s remarkable how little things change I suppose.
MO:
What else can consumers be doing in order to get the best deal?
Brad:
The first thing is just to give yourself a little patience. In a perfect world, give yourself a couple weeks really. If you do that, you quickly just get an idea for what the sort of market price for the TV or pair of shoes or whatever it is you are buying. As long as you can get the market price and give yourself some patience. Then just in a very brief, quick way pay attention to a few different resources. Pay attention to the most popular stores that sell it. See what the coupons in the marketplace are. Over the course of a week or two or three, you’ll more than likely find a price drop or a huge coupon that comes out for a limited time. That’s certainly the right approach. That’s what we tend to do. I’m very close with my UPS man. I eat a lot of our own cooking. I try and not let the impulse of wanting something immediately get in the way of waiting a week or two for a great deal to come along.
MO:
What is the key to the fantastic level of media coverage you have received?
Brad's Deals
Brad:
I wish I could bottle that up. Right? It’s funny. Those things just happen in the oddest ways. I was on “The Today Show” one time, and the only reason that happened is because one of the producers of “The Today Show” was not in New York. He was on the road somewhere. He was in a hotel somewhere. The USA Todays are always at the door in these hotels. He was reading the USA Today for probably the only day that year he was reading it, and we happened to get mentioned in the paper that day. Two days later, I’m in New York on a TV show. They seem to happen very serendipitously. The hope is that as long as we keep doing a good job, having an interesting website that is appealing to people, the word is spreading, and people are telling their friends, maybe the next friend that gets told about BradsDeals is a reporter somewhere. I think that just building a good, interesting, compelling product is really the best way to go.
MO:
BradsDeals.com has over 60,000 Facebook likes. How are you using Facebook to promote the site?
Brad:
I think it is an incredible way to communicate with our user base. We’ve only had that for maybe a year and a half or so. Again, it is just a symptom, I hope, of doing a great job every day. It seems like it keeps sort of ticking up incrementally every day for the last year and a half or so. What’s great is that is ultimately what we’re trying to do. You want to build something people like. Facebook has built such a clever way to literally make that exact statement. It is just incredible for me to see. It’s a really neat thing to have. Hopefully, that facilitates more people finding out and people telling their friends. You can obviously see what your friends like on Facebook. We’re thrilled to see it and are going to continue to use Facebook as a way to communicate, do giveaways, contests, and ask questions. It is an incredible, real-time channel to communicate with our audience.

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