PAUL KENNY founded Cobone.comin 2010 at the age of 25. Having successfully secured seed funding from Jabbar Internet Group, the business began by offering online daily deal coupons to consumers within the United Arab Emirates for products and services offered by spas, restaurants and a range of other leisure activities.
Cobone.comgrew rapidly and over the past 13 months has achieved growth of 30 per cent month-on-month, becoming the leading daily deal website in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The company was originally established with the premise of helping to move the Middle East consumer market online. The majority of consumer spending there is still conducted within the huge shopping malls across the region. Cobone.comhas sought to capitalise on the expansion of broadband services to households and businesses, and ever increasing access to smartphone and web-based technology.
To date, Cobone.comhas 120 employees, comprising 26 nationalities, and six regional offices based in three countries that include the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
Having diversified the business to also focus on a pure e-commerce model, Mastercard released a survey which found Cobone.comwas the second most popular website for purchasing online in the Middle East region.
In 2011, Cobone.comwon the Best e-Commerce Website of the Year award at the Internet Show, Middle East. Its e-commerce mobile application – the first of its kind in the region – is available in both Arabic and English and the firm says it is now the most popular downloaded app in its category within MENA.
As of April this year, Cobone.comhad saved its customers more than $50 million and sold almost one million coupons. Kenny anticipates that geographical expansion across the region, in addition to development of the business into more vertical areas of e-commerce, lie ahead.
The primary objective of Cobone.comwas to consistently offer the best available online deals to consumers within the Middle East by offering a minimum discount of 50 per cent on activities and experiences across the region.
Having achieved rapid success, the company has developed its business model and is now also the brand leader in a host of other retail areas such as electronics, fashion, travel, and products for mums and kids. Cobone.comcontinues to influence the way in which Middle Eastern consumers are purchasing online.
In the 19 months since it started, Cobone.comhas signed up more than
1.5 million customers and achieved almost 600,000 followers on social media.
Has being Irish contributed to your success?
“Being Irish has definitely contributed to my success. Unfortunately, Irish people can often underestimate how respected we are internationally. It has been a great door opener for me and I believe that it has been a key driver of my success to date.”
How do you recharge your batteries?
“I love to travel and my wife and I frequently spend weekends discovering new destinations around the world. Taking time away from my hectic schedule is critical to maintaining a focused and balanced lifestyle.”