David Offierski is a 28-year-old entrepreneur who took the startup plunge in January 2010 and launched Clip Mobile, a location-based coupon network. Find out more about this driven Young Entrepreneur in today’s feature.
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Clip Mobile is currently Canada’s largest location-based coupon network. We have built free apps for iPhone, Android and Blackberry smartphones that allow users to find and redeem deals, discounts, coupons and promotions directly from their mobile device. Clip is aiming to replace your mailbox as the first place you look for deals in your neighbourhood.
Clip currently has about 275 merchants on our system with our strongest markets being Toronto and Vancouver. We have done campaigns for companies such as Roots, Quiznos, Domino’s and Whole Foods as well as variety of independent businesses.
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I started Clip because I was really interested in how technology adoption was impacting a variety of industries. As a marketer, I was drawn to the mobile space because I was fascinated by how quickly and drastically the new era of mobile devices were altering how we as consumers find and transact on information, basically creating a new form of direct marketing. From about early 2008, I knew I wanted to be part of this ‘mobile revolution’ and from there it just took a while to figure out how that was going to happen.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is how quickly this industry and business is evolving. Every day I get to tackle something different. When we launched a year and a half ago, hardly anyone knew what a mobile coupon was. Now, for a variety of reasons – some of which Clip can take credit for, some we can’t – the mainstream level of awareness and appetite to use your phone as a savings tool has skyrocketed. It is really satisfying to be viewed as an industry leader and to continue to build from a technology standpoint, as well as building a brand, awareness and hopefully a market-leading company.
The flipside of this rapid evolution is also a real challenge. Development and innovation cycles in mobile are like that of the internet, only on steroids. Staying on top of the latest developments in the industry, adding new features, offering the service on the latest devices and generally staying on top of what is happening can be a bit exhausting. Also, building the best company possible requires the best people. Mobile development is experiencing a boom (especially in Toronto) so finding and keeping talent is a challenge for a small company like Clip that has not taken outside funding.
Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
The space is moving so quickly it’s hard to say exactly. Right now, we are doing some exciting work to license our platform to partners such as publishers, directories, and brands so that they can have mobile local deals content in their apps too. Hopefully, we can continue to be at the forefront of this new content and advertising stream.
What does success look like to you?
Success to me is about making progress. I think I was very lucky that relatively early in my career I learned that I am most motivated when in position where I can directly affect the progress and hopefully the outcome of a project. Starting my own company allowed me to do that and I know that going forward I will be successful if I have an ‘ownership stake’ in making progress.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
I would say taking the plunge and actually doing a startup would definitely be at the top of the list. When you quit your job, invest your savings and devote all your time and focus to a project is when it gets really interesting. For me, launching a startup has been the most challenging, rewarding, terrifying and exhilarating experience of my career and probably my life thus far.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
It might be a bit redundant to underscore the importance of networking in this forum because I have been to a few Notable parties and it certainly seems as though getting out there and meeting people is a skill shared by almost all of the Notable readership, but it is so essential. Building a business doesn’t happen in a vacuum, progress is made and deals get done through a network of people who will pick up the phone when you call, so its important to build those relationships over time and to not just call when you need something!
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I sit on the Board of Directors for the Stony Lake Yacht Club which is a youth-focused, not-for-profit sailing and tennis club on the lake where I spent my summers growing up. I continue to be involved in teaching sailing to youth because it gives kids a very important skill set that can be applied to life off the water (ie. making split second decisions with imperfect information) and has played a formative role in the person I have become.
What is Notable to you?
What is Notable to me is the entrepreneurial energy coming from the sub-30 crowd in Toronto and across Canada. It seems to me that the great recession we just came out of, while it was pretty rough for our generation in terms of a brutal job market and limited growing potential, has had the very positive spinoff effect of creating a new generation of entrepreneurs. This bodes well for our economy and society. If you need an example, just look at all the good Julian Brass and the Notable team are doing and having so much fun while they do it!