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Launched recently, Keynoir is a new take on the group buying concept, which showcases one offer at a time on high quality restaurants, spas, hotels, and other experiences around London. It has secured a first round of funding worth £1.3m from Index Ventures and PROfounders Capital.

I've been talking to co-founder Glen Drury, previously CEO of Kelkoo, about the concept.

If you run a startup and fancy a Start Me Up profile then please throw your hat in the ring by emailing editor@econsultancy.com.

In one sentence, what is Keynoir: 

Keynoir is London's new private members lifestyle club, bringing our members luxury lifestyles at discounts of 50%-90% from fantastic restaurants, hotels, spas, events and personal services.

What problem does Keynoir solve? 

Many people go out to drinks and dinner at least three times per week, buy lunch five days per week and on a conservative estimate, that is worth roughly £800 per month. If you then throw on top any pampering, spas, gym memberships, shows, events and little treats, and it all adds up to a significant amount of cash.  

These young and affluent people really do love to go out and to reward themselves with fun and self-indulging experiences, and rightfully so! They work really hard to achieve their career, personal and family goals. So, free membership to our club ensures that their money goes farther than ever before, and helps them upgrade their lifestyle purchases.

When and why did you launch it? 

We launched the London web site in April 2010. The focus of the website is to bring you one thing to think about at a time. Both Phil and I have spent years working within a 'search' environment, and wanted to bring out something that really relied on serendipity.

We want the business to focus on one offer at a time, and be like a little sugar rush when you get the email in the morning.

We have launched the Facebook site in May where we offer our members more chance to be social, including games, seeing past deals, and talking to each other about the great experiences they are having. Last week we ran a competition where 1,500 new members tagged them selves in a photo to win a table for four at Sketch.

Who is your target audience? 

Today our target audience is 25-45 year old Londoners, we will shortly be expanding our great offer to other European cities.  The average member is earning in excess of £50,000 per year, and is looking to really make their money work hard for them. In addition, we are finding that our offers are attracting the corporate entertainment spend, as more and more professionals are joining.

Running a members club is turning out to be great fun, as they are already leading the company to provide extra services and offers.

What are your immediate goals? 

Grow our membership base and our great offers to London. We are really getting some traction with our partner merchants, as an example, last week we were able to send a top London restaurant 400 new diners with a 24 hour promotion.  

On the membership side, we are attracting significant numbers of new members, and they are surprising us with their willingness to spend regularly on the offers we bring them.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building Keynoir?  

Simplicity is the biggest challenge, most sites default to giving more and more choice, until it feels like noise, we are working very hard to make our site and member experience very simple. 

Our focus needs to remain on providing great experiences from both well known luxury brands as well as those that should be well know. As an example, I hadn't heard of the Hempel Hotel before our London team partnered with them to bring a great offer at a significant discount. Now, I'm very sure that it should be among not only the coolest brands in London, but should also be one of the best known.

How will the company make money?  

The great thing about Keynoir is that we are bringing performance marketing to the local advertising world. In the same way as online has revolutionised advertising going from pay per thousand to pay for acquisition, we only make money if the advertorial on the day brings customers to the merchant partner.  

The merchant partners are finding that Keynoir members are more generous than the average customers, which means that the small commission we charge makes Keynoir one of the most effective forms of customer acquisition there is.

What is your pricing model? 

Today, membership to the club is free, but we may introduce charges as we grow. We do our best to bring our members discounts above 50%, only take a fee if the minimum number of customers agree in advance to purchase

Who is in the team and what does it look like?

The founders are myself and Phil Wilkinson, ex founder Kelkoo and e-commerce boffin, and Jan Riem, finance and international growth expert. We have 12 other early employees who all bring their own unique flair to the company too.

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years' time? 

Keynoir will be a success in three to five years if we really deliver on our customer promise: 

We aim to blow users away with exceptionally fun experiences at extraordinarily low prices, which will always exceed customer expectations. We will occasionally seek customer feedback and ideas to ensure that their experience of Keynoir is never anything less than perfect.

Ultimately, we don’t want to be the biggest, just the best. We believe that if we deliver on our promise, our members will help us to reach new heights of excellence every day.  

Graham Charlton

Published 3 June, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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