Rocket Internet Alum Heading Internationalization Strategy For Groofi.Com
Tiffany J Hopkins co-founded Rocket Internet’s 5ROOMS.com and worked with several of their start-ups. Now she's creating a strategy to expand crowd-funding site Groofi.com
Groofi.com links social projects to corporate sponsors looking to connect with their local community
This month we speak to digital marketing and media expert Tiffany J Hopkins, who is currently Chief Marketing Officer for crowd funding site Groofi.com.
Tiffany studied Cognitive Science and Computing in the Arts at the University of California - San Diego and began her career in digital media working for MTV Networks. She spent two years with MTV applying the psychology of internet interaction to product development for social media.
She left to start Too Many Chiefs, a company whose main product was a monetisation platform for iPhone games. It was resource for developers to make more money and the platform was sold to a gaming company in San Francisco.
Tiffany graduated from the University of St. Gallen and Nanyang Business School dual MBA programme in 2010, specializing in International Strategy and Finance. Immediately after graduating she worked as a consultant for Analysys Mason in Singapore. After that she joined Rocket Internet and was business development manager for Zando.co.za, a South African online fashion retailer, co-founder of 5ROOMS.com, an online furniture and lifestyle store also in South Africa, and head of international marketing for Home24, online furniture store.
Tiffany joined the Groofi team earlier on this month and is currently based in Oakland, California. We spoke to her over Thanksgiving weekend to find out more!
How did you get involved in Groofi?
Groofi is a group finance website that has been around for about a year. It started out on a normal crowd sourcing platform and we noticed that certain projects were getting a lot attention. We wanted to take on projects within communities and allow companies to sponsor these projects so we built a website and it got an amazing reception. We rebuilt the website to help people find corporate sponsors.
I was approached by the founders who I know personally.
I’ve got great contacts in the VC world so I’m helping them wrap their heads around the internet business and dealing with things such as raising funds. The founding team is from South America, the UK, Italy and Spain. We’re working on the business model, looking to make more connections in South America and considering moving into sub-Saharan Africa. We want to make sure we have the right founders in different countries with good connections in the rest of the world.
Can you tell us about some of the exciting projects that have sought funding through Groofi?
I can tell you about a very recent one. There was a school in the Andes that needed repainting and there is a small company that was new to area and needed to interact with the locals. They matched what everyone else had donated and we agreed to mention them on the site.
What were some of the perks of working with Rocket Internet?
I worked for three Rocket companies. I helped launch two, one as VP of Business Development and as Co-Founder and MD for a second. Then I ran the marketing department for all the furniture ventures outside of Berlin and then ended up working for with another twelve ventures. It was an absolutely unparalleled operational experience.
Are you looking to stay in online business?
My dad had start-ups and I used to hang out at the office a lot. A love of that kind of environment has become embedded in me. Because of my background I will stay in the computer-related industry but I’m much more interested in using tech as a means to an end and creating value through it. The Internet is making it easier to change the way we live and I definitely want to be part of that.
What are some of the nuances of working on nearly all the world's continents?
I’ve worked in ten different countries and it's always the little things that amaze me the most. Time keeping is always taken differently. Brazilians were lax with time and that was interesting for me coming from a German company. There are also different styles depending on hierarchy. This is firmer in South East Asia than in the US. When I was a consultant in Singapore and going between different offices, the Dubai office was just getting started at 7pm while in the UK they’re going home at 7pm!
I’ve heard Oakland is a great place for start-ups
Oakland is the perfect city for start-ups. It's one of the most diverse area in California. It's close to San Francisco, bikeable, temperate. I would go crazy in a less diverse city after having spent so much time abroad.
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