Kamran Bloach started up his coupon-sharing website during an MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM).
Starting from scratch without any external investment or a marketing budget, the entrepreneur transformed TopBargains into one of Australia’s top 500 most visited websites, with more than 300,000 registered members, 20,000 unique visitors per day and three million annually.
Kamran claims his success has nothing to do with SEO, but is down to quality content and a smooth user experience.
Prior to starting his own business, Kamran worked as a brand manager for consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble and oil group Shell in Pakistan, before moving to join leading pharma firm Johnson & Johnson in a global marketing role in the US.
He relocated to Sydney, Australia for his MBA where he would continue working for Johnson & Johnson before going full-time with his own business venture.
Today, he works with more than 4,000 online retailers to deliver cut-price deals, promo codes and vouchers.
How did the idea for TopBargains come about?
In the very beginning it was just a hobby project. I paid a freelancer $300 to develop the very first version back when I was about to start my MBA. I kept refining the idea during my MBA, shamelessly convincing my teachers to keep letting me pick TopBargains for my academic projects over and over again.
Slowly the website took off, but it was several years later that I decided to take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship.
What challenges do you face?
Australia is a small market and we can’t achieve scale or command large valuations without international expansion.
At the same time, our biggest source of competition comes from US sites overflowing into the Australian market. Companies like Coupons.com and RetailMeNot have grown significantly in the US and their future expansion will have a large impact on the Australian market in the coming years.
What advice do you have for MBAs looking to start their own business?
I get pitched to by loads of MBAs who have great ideas, but lack clear revenue models. That might work if you are sitting in Silicon Valley with access to generous funding sources, but most entrepreneurial ventures will not go far without a prudent business model and viable cash flows.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at AGSM?
I wanted to accelerate my career growth by learning new skills and building professional networks.
AGSM was clearly ranked as number one in Australia and was well ahead of other business schools, particularly in Sydney. If I hadn’t had been accepted by the AGSM admissions team, I wouldn’t have applied to any other business school in Australia.
What are your future plans for the business?
Driving user growth and expansion into other markets is the way forward for us.
Personally, I will be seeking to minimize my role in the business, as the model has been fairly optimized and can be run profitably without my operational involvement.
Tell us something about Johnson & Johnson that most people wouldn’t know.
There are over 250 companies that make up the J&J Corporation, most of them independently branded. I remember hearing about some subsidiaries competing against each other without knowing that they were all part of J&J.
What does Johnson & Johnson look for in its job applicants?
It’s very big on the personal and professional integrity of a candidate. MBA candidates can expect to see a strong focus on ethics across the company and should thoroughly prepare for that during the hiring process.