How to leverage a personal brand to build a company with “Heroes” star Greg Grunberg, co-founder of Yowza

This is a great example of life imitating art. Greg Grunberg played an idea tinkerer named Sean Blumberg on a TV show called Felicity about 10 years ago. His character came up with one idea after another after another including the condom that plays “here comes the bride” and the famed smoothaise.

Fast forward to June 2009 and Greg co-founded Yowza, a mobile coupon platform with August Trometer and Rick Yaeger who now boast over 15,000 merchants issuing discounts across the United States.

Watch as Greg walks us through the founding of Yowza, explains the reasoning behind the application and revel as he evokes the true passion and spirit of the startup.

You can follow Greg on Twitter here and can find more about him, his acting, his charities and his band here.

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Robert: Hey everybody Rob Woodbridge with UNTETHER.tv where we get behind the business of mobile and I got a guest here who is actually one of the founders or the co founders of the YOWZA its Greg Grunberg you might recognize him as Matt Parkman from Heroes and we are going to talk strictly about the technology today so listen Greg thank you for joining us today.

Greg: Rob thanks for having me I mean this is where am, I mean you know this is a whole other side to my personality. I once played a character on a TV show called Felicity and it was, I played Sean Blumberg this like entrepreneurial guy who always had all these crazy ideas and JJ Abrams who created that show and Matt Reeves they are friends of mine they know this side of me no one else does and now the world hopefully slowly we are getting the word I mean, you know YOWZA! is something that, it is an idea that I had. I am always just an armored by the latest technology I embrace I use it I try it.

And you know I was one of the first adoptees of Twitter you know in the kind of actor side of it and that’s why I think I have so many followers. I don’t, I really think it’s a matter of timing you know with Twitter and I kind of caught the wave early. But when the I Phone came out and I have always been, I have been a real Apple guy but when the iPhone came out and the apps started coming out you know everybody and their brother was thinking of what’s the latest app idea and it wasn’t I don’t think no, not everyone but a lot of people obviously were on that band wagon and I just it came out of frustration. Every idea that I kind of had was already being done or I could see someone else doing it and it wasn’t organic to who I am.

Elizabeth and I have three boys and we shop we are not incredibly frugal you know but we try our best to be and we get those coupons and the, you know the things in the mail and we never have them when we want them and the truth is it was Bed Bath and Beyond which I don’t think you guys have up there but here it’s the store that you do not go to unless you have the 20% off coupon and the coupon they send out it’s literally that thick hard board coupon and it’s just 20%.

So in our car door compartment I have like 10 of them so we are going in to the store which we shop at all the time and we are with the boys and it’s hard enough to keep track of the kids and we are on our way in and I forget it in the car and I was too lazy to go back to the car and get it and I was like literally like why doesn’t somebody harness the location based technology of this phone, it knows where I am give me coupons from stuff give me offers or better right around me don’t do it in an intrusive way like that, that you know the movie that comes, kind of refers to the Spielberg movie you know the Tom Cruise movie, what was it, AI or whatever, or?

Robert: Minority Report.

Greg: Minority Report yeah, Minority Report I don’t want you know to be walking by something yet unless I choose and elect that but I want those coupons I want to say I don’t want to have to go and cut and paste I want to save paper so anyway cut to, two months later and I’m on Twitter and I get a Twit from a couple of guys who want to get a hold on me because I have this charity band they want to create an app. for the band so that people can check and see where we are playing and the latest info and when they do that money go to our charities and I thought what a great thing these guys don’t want anything from me. I look into these guys I checked them out as I did you and all the.

Robert: [Indiscernible] [00:03:22].

Greg: August Trometer [Phonetic] [00:03:24] who is now my partner on YOWZA! is a genius these guys had apps before he had like five apps already right when the apps store started. The other guy who got a hold on me who is also a partner in YOWZA! is Rick Yega who has Rick Mcmerckies [Phonetic] [00:03:39] really super smart when it comes to social networking and everything Mac related and so it was kind of a perfect strategy I was talking to these guys about it and I said well I got this idea, you know, what do you think and it was amazing. Because I’m literally looking at them on I Chat not on Skype but it was like they were here, we call ourselves the three halves because literally they are here and I’m here and it was like I said this, I said this idea Rick is frozen right but he is in Canada so am thinking that’s fine.

Robert: That’s natural.

Greg: August is just a machine he is going, you can see the wheels spinning August is thinking about all the analytics that we can gather and the shopping habits and all of that stuff that we get into.

Robert: Absolutely, absolutely.

Greg: And Rick is thinking about the social media aspect using my you know quote unquote celebrity and my access to getting the word out very quickly which you need when you have an app idea and so it was just a perfect partnership and from that moment on most of the work fell on Augusts’ shoulders. You know we kind of made our laundry wish of list, wish list and said to him and he just really created and the first version of the app was rushed to be perfectly honest with you but we had to get it out there because I had tremendous PR opportunities to spread the word and you cannot in my position you can’t tell people it’s coming they don’t get it.

Robert: Yeah, yeah.

Greg: So anyway we got it up with the help of the people at Apple we got it approved you know it took the normal amount of time which is pretty fast turn around and they were great and so far we have had tremendous success and we have been really, really happy with it.

Robert: So you took a kind of a securest route right you, you started you went to acting school did all of this stuff to, to you know become an actor an accomplished actor and it’s funny my wife didn’t mention the role in Felicity as a tinker or as an inventor and have you know art mimics life and I thought well we are never going to talk about that don’t worry about it but it’s true.

Greg: That’s the first thing I mentioned.

Robert: She will be happy but you go through this whole process of becoming an actor to be able to sell an application it’s an odd way to market but I, you know it’s a unique way to do it I have never seen that done in any of the other the app or the other developers that we have spoken with, but so.

Greg: Smeaol [Phonetic] [00:05:56] has done it a little bit with you know with the, with the voice altering one that they had and the [Indiscernible] [00:06:08] Jackson is an app.

Robert: That’s a great app yeah.

Greg: Yeah [Indiscernible] [00:06:07] you know I mean those are the thing that I love is what you said before we actually started the interview which was that you have seen YOWZA! now kind of in a few places where you haven’t seen me being mentioned. And that is to me I mean during the holiday time we were alerted to this at the last second 11th hour Martha Stewart was on and she was on with her, with this tech guru guy who is just really smart and he showed these latest apps that you can use to shop, he showed the Red Laser and he shows the YOWZA! and she is like YOWZA!, YOWZA!, YOWZA!.

I can’t even say it and meanwhile she is saying it 17 times it was awesome and they didn’t mention once that this actor from a TV show co created it so it was wonderful. It’s really taken on a life of its own especially now we have like you know we are all across the country and it’s working and it’s, but and again I hope I’m not jumping ahead but that was the key, the problem for us it was a major hurdle and it was sort of don’t put the cart before the horse. If I can get the word out nationally it’s a chick in the egg I am using a lot of these terms I hate that. I should start using quotes too because that’s obnoxious as well. But no there was really a chick in the egg situation look consumers are not going to use it unless there are valuable coupons in their area that they can use.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: Merchants are not going to list their coupons unless customers are using it so we had to overcome that so I reached out to all of the friends that I had in any businesses that I had dealt with on a charity level both you know like that had asked me to show up at a mall or you know I had been spokesman for or whatever. But it was, if I couldn’t get the word out nationally it would have been a lot easier locally which is with some other location based services I have done location based apps I have done so, but we have overcome that and it’s a constant, you know, hurdle that we are trying to just advance .

Robert: So talk about that, you said you have got over 15,000 venders or stores you know involved in this and I mean what was the critical point for you guys to have it so that it would start to take a, you know, life of its own and start to role by itself so you didn’t have you could step back and say you know not do the door to door and make the calls.

Greg: Well for us it was we made a conscious choice and this is more of Augusts’ choice than anything else. I mean August is just a brilliant guy he has got a combination of Tech suaveness incredible tech suaveness and also business side both of us August and I both had experience in retail, small retail stores. I had a frozen yoghurt store and August had a few bagel shops, muffin and bagel shops years ago so we had that experience we knew what it was like and how, how expensive it was to even a hand a stack of flyers to a teenager to walk the neighborhood knowing that probably halfway through he is going to throw them in the trash you know so we knew that going in but so we set we decided, August really came up with the idea of let’s, let’s take the mall approach and let’s have, let’s get some big anchor stores you know on board that we know have a tone of locations.

Robert: Right.

Greg: So you know sports authority finish line, the Container Store was actually one of our first if not our first and these are stores that you know it’s an interesting thing this Mobile because you think about it and you go wow you know this is amazing but you don’t use coupons to go get a beer you just don’t do it.

Robert: But could you? That would be great.

Greg: Well but you can’t I mean there are, you know Four Square and some of these other places where it’s a game you know when it’s like a social game that’s too much work for me, my wife likes it. I just don’t like it and you know it’s not that I don’t like it and I don’t have time for it. I want to save money I just want to press the button and use the coupon but I’m not going to use the coupon at a bar, friends of mine do. We have bars we have restaurants we have theatres we think so it’s you know right now it’s very much of a, it’s exciting and it’s generating interests in areas I don’t think in retail that it, when it settles we will see you know where.

You know we are talking to some of the biggest chains and they love what we are doing, we are way out ahead a lot of these other mobile couponing applications so they are turning to us and we are about to announce some unbelievable partnerships. We just turned on or we are about to tomorrow or the next day 6800 Jackson Hewett location because people need to save money when they are doing their taxes and 6800 locations I mean that’s crazy and we can turn it on with what August has set you know like this. We can turn on one location just the same way and so it’s exciting in that way but then Seer came on and Finish Line and Sports Authority and Guitar Center is actually you know they are scanning the bar code right of the phone.

So it’s stuff like this that makes it really exciting and we are to a point now where we haven’t reached nowhere near critical mass but there are some cities where we now have to think about categorizing. We did not want to categorize the app yet because there is a benefit to being let’s say you are a shoe store and someone is looking for a discount on frozen yoghurt so they are going through and they are looking for the frozen yoghurt and as they are scrolling through like walking through a mall I didn’t know there was a shoe place on here so you benefit from that.

Robert: Yeah absolutely.

Greg: You know when we categorize and suddenly it’s just going go food, frozen yoghurt, got it and you know you miss out on all this other stuff. So you can’t please everyone and you know there have been some obstacles in the app world the rating system on you know the Apple store is a disaster.

Robert: Yeah, yeah.

Greg: It is the worst possible system and this is from the best possible company, they have got to get that together.

Robert: Well its amazing talk about that is that because of the influence that it wields it’s like I mean when somebody rates your one star or a two star I mean that has a massive impact on your ability to sell and be featured with Apple or is it what is the different parts?

Greg: Yeah some will be featured on Apple I mean we have been on, we are a price on the Wheel of Fortune, we are also a price on the Price is Right and stuff so I mean I have ways of getting around that I would look at.

Robert: They are relying on that.

Greg: No, no and Apple are very supportive I love those guys I mean I really do but yeah it would be great and that’s been kind of the thing. Well you are, you know you got three stars and you are not a five star thing well so is the Apple apps, Apple apps are two stars and it’s interesting it’s like wow really, kettle, black, oven really mean it’s unbelievable. It’s like guys your system doesn’t work the only time you ask people to rate on a one button rating is when they are getting rid of the app.

Robert: Yeah, I know.

Greg: When someone is getting rid of the app they are not going to rate it a five star app, I love this app I never want to see it again. It’s like what happened, delete, delete, delete yeah. I mean so they have got to do something and the free apps are the ones that suffer the most from that and all of our competition it’s the same thing it’s because it’s so easy to get the app, lose it, get it, lose it you know so when you are losing it you know you are, and by the way if you hit no thanks it also gives you like a zero star rating or something. I know it’s just not a good system.

Robert: Not effective, not effective, but.

Greg: But it doesn’t affect us you want to save money there are 100’s of coupons on there; use them or not they are, and they pertain to you exactly where you are. I am not going to send you or you are not going to receive offers in New York if you are in Toronto.

Robert: Right.

Greg: You are not going to get them in LA if you are in New York. You know so it’s only right around you and you can set the proximity from one mile to 50 miles it’s, you know it’s up to you.

Robert: I mean the app, you know, I certainly have watched a bunch of videos of it and demos and because I’m up in Canada we don’t have it but you know it’s certainly is, it’s comprehensive it would you look out there and you say that there’s, you are so far ahead of the competition that this is now a platform?

Greg: Yes.

Robert: And when do you, when do you kind of win that war which is the, you know; the mobile couponing war?

Greg: I, you know what is interesting is I don’t think that there is really any winning I think there is room enough for new stores to have their own apps I think in addition to, look you turn to YOWZA! you know that you are going to save money there is no question about it. Just because a store is listed on YOWZA! doesn’t mean they are discounter they just are putting offers on there that are possibly up sale or introduce you to an area of the store that you wouldn’t normally be familiar with and they give you a little discount to try that out you know if you are at Costco and you want to try their sun glasses you normally wouldn’t buy glasses there, whatever it’s, it’s that kind of a thing that is how these people are dipping their feet into the water but I don’t think winning is.

You know look before mobile couponing there was no clear winner everybody coupons it’s across the board I think there is room enough for everyone I just think that you know our objective is to be on the bottom let’s say take the iPhone as an example that permanent, you know the bar at the bottom where you have four apps that you know you are not going to change you don’t flip it from page to page. We want YOWZA! to be one of those for everybody because if you are, if you spend money without checking with YOWZA! you are throwing money away.

Robert: I mean and that’s a noble goal right you know because you are doing 10 or 12 pages that you slide through on the iPhone so now how do you know once you have got the person to download and install it and they haven’t deleted and given you one star and gotten angry with you now how do you rise above the fold of that you know 50 or 60 apps of people typical people have installed and? .

Greg: The way you do is you make it really special. You create offers that kind of generate that tickle me Elmo frenzy you know and that you can, we do through relationships you know I voiced you know I am a voice on the Hello Game and I have voiced Time Shift and all that [Indiscernible] [00:15:49] all of these great games I know EA I know all these guys so we will be coming out with a coupon in you know in partnership with Stop so that we will have a unique offer just to YOWZA! and that’s really our job is to make it so that you know when you turn when you open it up yeah you are going to see some stuff that is also advertised in the front window of the store but that’s good too that tells you where and when the savings are. But there are unique things on there where you can immediately save 10 dollars when you spend 50 you know these are unique things to YOWZA!.

And the other thing that differentiates us which we have, you know, it’s been, it was a burden at the beginning to get over the chicken in the egg but we insisted on doing it we are going to keep doing it which is we do not aggregate coupons. We will not ever put a coupon up we don’t put them up. The way YOWZA! works is, August has set it up and we have, now our whole tech department has set it up so that you know if you are a retailer or a merchant you have access to get YOWZA!.com you log in to your dash board and you control your own offers. That way we have ketches in there you know so you are not going to write 100% off it’s only if that happens we catch it and we alert you you made a mistake or profanity is caught we have a Disney model you know there are certain things that we cannot and will not advertise on there because stores are right next to each other based on proximity so you can’t have Hooters right next to or Tobacco Place right next to Disney land it’s not going to work. So we have those kinds of things in place but it’s our job to just make it more, you know make the incentives as much as possible for the consumer so that they will turn to it every day.

We are constantly working with the merchants this is something new to them they normally would just you know create a coupon and send it out and it’s in the paper and it lives it’s life or it’s in the mail box and if it’s used it’s used and if not it’s not these people can change their offers if Peer One has a bunch of chairs wicker chairs that are not that are sitting you know in Minnesota in a store they can put an offer up in the morning and blow them up for 50% off no one else is going to see it unless the, other than the people in that area. Sell, sell, sell at the end of the day take that coupon off, where else can you have that control?

Robert: It’s so targeted, it’s so targeted that you know location based stuff is, is incredible you see you mentioned a little bit with Four Square Goala these guys that are putting out these, you know Goala is not as much of a game as Four Square is.

Greg: Yeah.

Robert: And I think you are going South by South West and I think that if you, you are going to see a lot of Goala down there because they are from Texas and but I mean they are trying to get into this, a little bit of this space where you become you know the mayor of a location or if you check in somewhere close by you get a discount on, you know on a store that’s around the corner those kinds of things.

Greg: Which is awesome I think it’s great, yeah.

Robert: But do you ever see that kind of a good, a good fit with what you guys are doing and working with their open API that kind of stuff?

Greg: Yeah I mean we have partnered you know already we have partnered with Where which is a location that’s you know location services app and what we are planning on making additional partnership we are slowly reaching out to the, you know to partners that we think can really we could both benefit each other. For us it’s, you know, we hold a tremendous amount of inventory that creates you know value for a Goala or for value for Where and Where had the reach that we needed, you know so if you have a Blackberry, if you have an Android if you have a Palm Pre you download Where and one of the sort of apps in their app you know kind of thing well one of their buttons is offers; when you hit offers everyone of the offers there almost of them are YOWZA! offers and it’s all location based because their app is location based.

So we are very interested in partnering with Four Square and Goala and all the really good, the guys that are doing it right and they have been around for a long time and we are you know slowly reaching out to them. It has to be the right time it has to be the right fit you know and we have to do it in a way that obviously like I said benefits both parties but that’s something that I’m really excited to do.

Again though for us the model is and we did this there was, I think a kind of the radar that we actually won our category and it was based on simplicity the real reason why we won it is because we had taken, my side of this has been to August and said look I am going to take care of the publicity. I’m going to get the word out, I’ll get on the sub box I will ride around on my horse and let everybody know every talk show, every time I [Indiscernible] [00:20:16] whatever I can do I will do it right. But the app has to be Sandy [Indiscernible] [00:20:17] proof and that’s my mom. My mom cannot use this app forget about it. I don’t want my mom calling up going what the hell, I don’t have time to watch TV, your show is confusing enough. I have to become [Indiscernible] [00:20:33] or something, you know there’s no way that my mom and he is a good, we are talking about, you know, you ask there’s you know our age young, am probably older than you but the younger people are definitely, you know they are into this and they love it and they are social. But once you, once you are married and spending real money man you don’t have time for that. You want to like hit a button; show your phone save some money and you are out of there you know.

Robert: It makes sense, I mean the litmus test has to be, you know simplicity. If you can turn on an iPhone I mean I have five two kids, twin three year old boys and I hand them my, you know when I had a blackberry I hand them my blackberry and if they push a button the light would come on, I hand them my iPhone they enable the device right. They turn it on and they use the applications, they play games without me doing anything and I think that you have to carry that simplicity over to the app, right; you have to make it as simple as the device.

Greg: It’s true is my dad one of your twins because it’s the same thing with my dad. My dad like turns on a computer and he’s like but how does it work? I am like first of all I don’t know why you are talking with that accent dad and secondly don’t worry about the inner workings this isn’t the punch cards.

Robert: You just push the buttons

Greg: Yeah push the buttons, move your head around.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: I mean honestly I just know that the majority, again when all the dust settles you know for us it’s interesting we are in a tech world but we are, we’re preaching and building a business that’s been around since you know people were exchanging rocks in a cave. I mean it’s the same; it’s such an old business. It is incentivizing people to spend money and go into the Brick and Mortar Stores. We have a few service based businesses we have a few we are slowly working on product based coupons and you know there’s a whole you know unique bar-coding, all that stuff we are working on and it’s in our, in our road map but to put people back into the malls and give them a reason to, you know, to stand in the mall and go I had no idea that, you know right down there I can save money at Seers.

You know that to us is exciting that we, that people have the power of that in their hands and then as a retailer you can, you know, push an offer to somebody that has opted to see the latest offer from their store. We have that, you know you can, if you are a consumer you can say yeah you know every time your tire centre offers something new I want to hear about it and boom. That, you will get it on your phone you know, and brag about it. We have the social stuff you know you can brag about it through email, through Twitter and through Face book but again we keep it simple.

Robert: You know it’s interesting because one of the biggest challenge is a lot of the folks that I talk to around, you know the developers and the producers of these, of applications is that there is that middle ground between it’s almost like a firewall between you and your users and, and the people that are buying the applications. Because really especially, on the iPhone only Apple owns that information and you’ve got to kind of find a way to circumvent that to be able to talk to your customers in one way because you are not going to get it from Apple. So you guys have, have kind of come up with a, with a unique way to be able to communicate with these guys on a, on a personal basis because they sign up for this information right. When they want to know what’s going on, what kind of sales are in their area.

Greg: Yeah.

Robert: So you, you circumvent that wall which is Apple. They still get their information and paid, well sort of paid I guess but then you guys get the information to be able to communicate with, directly with the people who are, who are involved.

Greg: Yeah and it’s, it’s not intrusive I mean we, we you know although I like the idea of tying things to loyalty cards again loyalty cards are opt in you’ve chosen to become a member of that store or with the ouser [Phonetic] [00:24:11] we ask you two questions your gender and your age and that’s all when you sign up and you can lie if you want. It’s like, you know, and you are not going to get pushed coupons or you are not receiving deals based on your age or you know your gender. People say, they are like I don’t want to put, literally people are so fearful of big brother they are like I don’t even want to tell him that because I want to see every offer.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: People, you are sure that, ouser you press that button it finds your location and you get everything. There’s, we use the analytics we use that information for the merchant so the merchant knows when that, you know, that that unique ID that’s, that number that’s, is tied to that phone.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: That you know you are dealing with a male of female or whatever and when the, when the consumer says yeah I want to push, I want to know when you know, the Hobby Lobby has a new product or something in my area. That store in particular when that store gets a new offer I want to know about it.

Robert: Absolutely.

Greg: You know so it works both ways.

Robert: So when you talk, you mentioned at the beginning about analytics and, I mean that, the information that you are gathering from all of this is so powerful. It’s probably worth more than, than, well it could be worth more than the actual couponing business simply because you can, you can gauge from a, from a, for any company, for any store real time impact on sales, you know and, and you know you can model that for them is that, is that something that, how do you use that information or how do want to use that information?

Greg: Well currently like I said we are gathering all that information.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: And just counting what you, exactly what you just said as far as the value of that information is, is what August said the first time I brought up this idea. He was like that’s going to be so much more valuable than the coupon business and, you know it’s slowly YOWZA! is also just becoming a, an advertising platform you know you will be able to save money on, you know, YOWZA! and other areas. Right now it’s, it’s all mobile and it’s all on the phone but we do gather that information that’s valuable to, to these retailers. They do not want to waste time; they don’t want to waste money.

They don’t want to target to areas of the country where you know, where they actually aren’t going to make the most impact for that offer. And that’s another thing that you get on the fly, each location can have its own offer so you, they can look at anytime they go on and they can see where the offer is doing the best, they can track how many people are seeing it. Viewing the offer, how many people are using the offer based on, on them sliding over the used coupon offer and seeing the code or the, or the barcode they compare that then, you know, because there’s nothing that ties us to the register right now.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: But they, they use that information and compare it to if it’s a unique offer to YOWZA! how, how well it’s doing you know in their POS system and it’s just incredibly valuable for them to become more and more efficient.

Robert: Yeah forget the, the long, you know the 30 day testing A, B, C you know type of marketing it’s like it’s immediate at the end of the day you will be able to know what happened in three different stores in three different sales and offers, that’s.

Greg: Yeah it’s real time I mean that’s the greatest thing about ours, it’s real time and also when they put up a new offer these stores put up an offer and I do this when I’m demonstrating like if I’m in a huge company I’ll sit and make a presentation and then I say okay let’s just, let’s add an offer so I go, I add the offer and I ask them to give me the offer so that they know I’m not making it up. I add it, I add it and then I go okay check your phones and immediately that offer is live.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: That’s so powerful.

Robert: Very, very, very powerful.

Greg: Yeah.

Robert: And so when, you started on the iPhone obviously you know platform of choice I think for a lot of developers and, and you just said before we started that you are now on the Blackberry as well?

Greg: Yeah through Ware.

Robert: Okay through Ware.

Greg: So our partnership, we are working on YOWZA! [Phonetic] [00:28:00] for the Blackberry, YOWZA! for the [Indiscernible] [00:28:01] and YOWZA! for the android but we wanted to get the offers on those platforms so if you have a Blackberry or an Android or a [Indiscernible] [00:28:05] you download Ware which is free, download that AP and press offers and you’ll see all the YOWZA! offers.

Robert: [Indiscernible] [00:28:14].

Greg: And then as a merchant if you are, if you are out there and you have, you have a store and you think I can’t afford this trust me, you can afford this. This is probably a quarter of what you would normally, I mean it’s really, really reasonable. Especially now we’ve done this self sign up thing where you can go on our website, get YOWZA!.com and you can just sign up. You don’t even have to talk to anybody; you can put your own offers up. You get a credit card, it’s a monthly fee. We, how we make money our business model is a per location per month fee. And you get five offers that you can put up.

Robert: Per location?

Greg: Yeah, per location so it’s, it’s very, very, very cost effective. You are not going to get a bill saying well you added you know 17 offers this month so that’s times three, it’s not like that. It’s a, it’s a monthly charge that’s very reasonable. I could never, for my little frozen yoghurt store could never ever have come close to spending this little and reaching these many people.

Robert: It’s pretty remarkable, it’s kind of democratized this kind of couponing and advertising and marketing as in it the technology.

Greg: Yeah and it’s very egalitarian because everybody can do this.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: It’s not like you have to be the big change to be able to afford the infrastructure, the technology. There is no approval on an offer. There is no art work involved. There is no, you know, you don’t have to; you don’t have to spend any money. There’s no machinery to buy for your store. It’s literally filling the blanks. You’ve seen it.

Robert: Yeah, yeah.

Greg: I mean I’m sure and you know it’s filling the blanks and here’s the title of the offer, the details of the offer. Do you want to limit the offer to number of times that a person can use it and, and there’s an expiration too so you look at an offer and it says like fantastic [Indiscernible] [00:29:43] I’m getting an haircut oh the offer expires in two days, I got to go in now.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: So it, you know, it gets people pumped up and it gets the stores, you know their immediate sales when they need them.

Robert: Sense of urgency so the, I always have to say; you know I am intrigued by, by you. I mean you got certainly multiple jobs right, so you’ve named a number of them and we all, we all know what you do for your day job how much time do you devote, an effort do you devote into, into this company and then what other companies do you think that, like is this something that you are just going to continue doing, you are starting these companies when, when, when the appeal is there?

Greg: I, you know this is something, this idea, an idea like YOWZA! and August and I talk about this and it’s, you know, I guess it’s [Indiscernible] [00:30:29] and I don’t want to sound like you know I’m preaching or whatever but it is it literally can change the way people shop.

Robert: Sure.

Greg: Same much so it’s not, that kind of an idea doesn’t come around every, you know, once in a lifetime you can get an idea like this and you can really take it to pull up that you want and possibly sell it off or whatever. I, you know I devote every minute I can outside of the other projects that I have that are, you know, Heroes, you know as an actor it’s very demanding when I’m working, when I’m shooting. But when I’m not I have all of the time and I am always business minded. My wheels are spinning and so this is a really great outlet for me and it’s a way for me organically to, it’s a little William Shatner [Phonetic] [00:31:10] I mean I know that, you know it’s like hey dude you are an actor.

Don’t tell me how to save money, I don’t need you to tell me about, you know, orbits or whatever the hell it [Indiscernible] [00:31:19] but at the same time it is organic to who I am. I am a family man and that comes first and I have got my kids and I want to save money.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: So it all works in my story in talking about it but I’ve also got the banned [Indiscernible] [00:31:33] all of a sudden is that who I have seen and that’s a big thing for me as raising awareness. I started talk about it. Org if you haven’t gone to the website please check it out. It, epilepsy and seizures are something that are, there’s a stigma attached we don’t talk about it, if we talked about you wouldn’t be fearful if you saw someone had a seizure nor would you be fearful to tell coworkers so God forbid you have one you know, if you have epilepsy people know what to do.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: That it’s not that scary so I started and my band is an outlet for me. It’s a great outlet, we’ve raised you know over two million dollars over the last three years. So it’s, it all comes together, you know and you know Lowman’s for example is a great chain. They are on YOWZA!, they have a grand opening at the store; they could hire anybody to play, they are paying us a tone of money and it all goes to charity. And, and so here you got YOWZA!, my band, you know, the acting side of it with all my acting friends and the charity side all coming together and you know so, I don’t know, I don’t have a lot of free time because I ever, it’s all, like cuddling with my kids, because that’s what I do, I mean you do it to.

Robert: Yep.

Greg: You got to do it and it’s, it’s the most important thing but I love keeping busy and you know I think this actually comes out of is as an actor you have about five minutes in a year. Even in my position, I’ve been on three successful shows. I get about five minutes a year to have control over my career. Where the network, the network at a studio says we’d really like you to do this.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: So then later I get a call from my lawyer or my, you know my agent going they need to know right now and that’s it, it’s either I say yes or no. Do I say no? I mean there are sometimes these people will test well I should have said no but you know it’s hard as an actor. So this is something, I have control over this.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: I can go out and raise money for charity and no one is going to tell me it’s not successful. A dollar or a million dollars, I don’t care it’s helping people and, and YOWZA! I just get on the phone and call these guys men and the CMOs they get on the phone with me because I say it’s Greg Gruenberg from, from Heroes and they are like what? They pick up the phone as opposed and as opposed to someone else who might be in my position at another company they are, they are getting bombarded right now and calling from Goala and Hoala and Yalala [Indiscernible] [00:33:44] YOWZA! what? What are you talking about? So, you know it’s good. It’s and, and it’s an unfair advantage but I’m using it.

Robert: I mean you know if you, if you’ve listened to any of the other guys that I’ve spoken to it’s always the issue about how to create awareness in, in and it is, you can take the top down approach which is, which is kind of incognito for you and, and just be an investor, a silent investor but that’s never going to work and like what I get from you Greg is that you, you dive in. I mean you are passionate about this idea, you love the idea, it fits into what you want, you know it instills a sense of normalcy and this is, this is a business that you think can grow and I think that is, can revolutionize the way that you, you purchase and you buy, you buy things especially when it gets up to Canada and so you have to have all of those things. And then to leverage what you got that’s; that’s just a natural extension.

Greg: Yeah I mean people look; I have a million and a half people following me on Twitter.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: And they are used to sky logical humor and poop jokes, you know, and occasionally seeing the size of my steak when I order at the restaurant, and then.

Robert: Yeah I saw that carbo loading.

Greg: Exactly so suddenly they get, like YOWZA!, people who don’t know they are like YOWZA!, are you getting paid by these companies to preach about YOWZA! and I have to, and I take advantage of that, I am like no. YOWZA! is an application that’s, you know I’m like hey thanks for asking now I don’t have to preach it. But it’s a balance, it’s a delicate balance I don’t want to abuse you know any sort of [Indiscernible] [00:35:14] that I might be able to stand on but at the same time it’s, it’s free and it helps people and you know, it’s, it’s a business that I really, really enjoy. I so enjoy talking to guys like you, I love working with August, love it, Rick love it. I mean these guys are, if I, I’m, let’s put this way I have been very, very lucky in my career and, and you know this is nice. This could be a monstrous success and it’s on its way to doing just that but I don’t have to do this and I love working.

I love the excitement of it and building this business and, and I happen to really love the guys that I am working with so it’s all working.

Robert: I see Greg that’s a, that’s a great lesson. I don’t know if we could, we could end on a better note because it is, I mean if you don’t have that passion and that love for what, what it is that you are building it’s going to, it’s going to show. If you can’t communicate effectively with why you like the, what you are doing it’s going to show and people aren’t going to believe the sincerity.

Greg: Yeah.

Robert: And if, then you’ve lost those customers right and you’ve lost them for, for good and so, I think that’s a, that’s a great point to kind of, to end on simply because I mean I could speak with you for the rest of the day but I am fairly certain that you don’t want to speak to a guy up in, in Canada for the rest of the day.

Greg: You’d be surprised.

Robert: Maybe one.

Greg: I’ve got three, I’ve got three screaming kids back at home, you know [Indiscernible] [00:36:37].

Robert: I’ve got two upstairs as well so it’s okay. One, I mean how does, when you are doing stuff like this like you know coming on Don Tether or doing anything around YOWZA!, I mean what’s the reaction you know in, in your other line of work? In the acting side, does your agent kind of say you know, you’ve got to be over here, you’ve got to do these things or, or is this really truly your time to be able to do these things?

Greg: What’s really interesting is the timing is really right for this because the, you know I would say maybe ten years ago people would be like look make a decision.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: Do you want to be an entrepreneur or do you want to be you know and I, I think now more than ever just with the, the vital nature of what this, this tie is all in this is you know, it’s right in your pocket but you can also watch Heroes. And the same device is giving you, you know, this coupon or, you know that, it all works together in a way that plus it puts me just selfishly to be honest you know, it keeps me in the public eye and.

Robert: It’s your brand.

Greg: Yeah it’s my brand and there’s nothing wrong with that and it enables me to also get the word out that you know, I, I am not going to be pushed over. You know I’ve got my own stuff and I am working on it and I, and I really enjoy connecting and you know studios used to flip through people magazine to see who’s the hottest, now they go to Twitter and see how many followers you have. So it all ties in yeah.

Robert: Pretty amazing.

Robert: You know and, and YOWZA!, stuff like YOWZA! or the band or not really the band because we give all that money away like YOWZA! just as far as to be perfectly honest with you it frees me up to not have to, you know, take every job that comes my way. And I’ve, and I’ve been extremely, extremely lucky that I’ve worked with the best people. Really I’ve been so fortunate.

Robert: Fortunate.

Greg: To be able to work with J. J. Abrams and Tim Crang I mean they are just.

Robert: [Indiscernible] [00:38:32].

Greg: So then I can be a little bit more choosy because I’ve got a business that’s working and, and I enjoy what I am doing, so.

Robert: Wow look Greg, I truly appreciate your time to stay with me today and kind of, and share the YOWZA! story and share your story. I really do appreciate this and, and I will look forward to the day that it comes up to Canada and, and then I’ll ping you and let you know my, my true thoughts on using it. But it’s something that I would use and, and that’s what this is about to make sure that you can endorse the products and you are, certainly you are ringing endorsement for your own product.

Greg: Thank you and thank you for, for letting me talk a little bit about the charity stuff and really to talk about the inner workings of this because you know people see it and they are like oh he’s just attaching his name that’s why I love engaging in a conversation that’s an intelligent one and one that shows my, that I can show people that I really am truly passionate about it and I am the one doing this with some very, very you know whatever it is now, 14 really, really smart people.

Robert: Yeah.

Greg: You know it’s not; it’s not just, I’m not just a figure head of somebody that you know goes on and so yeah I use it and get paid for it. You know I mean, you know, I’ve done that over the years too but this is, this is something that I really do enjoy and I, and I’ve been responsible for you know at least half of it. You know I can’t, on the tech side of it but, you know it’s been a great partnership so far.

Robert: [Indiscernible] [00:39:44] get YOWZA!.com and what’s your Twitter address? It’s, just add Greg Gruenberg?

Greg: Add Greg Gruenberg yeah.

Robert: Okay so we’ll see if we can get you three or four more followers.

Greg: That’d be awesome, that’d be awesome. Anytime man, anytime you have any question about anything mobile and you just [Indiscernible] [00:40:02] call me, I mean that’s what we are trying to do with YOWZA! is [Indiscernible] [00:40:04] that platform that says oh YOWZA! thinks this and YOWZA! thinks that. You know we’ve got, we’ve got some really smart people over here and if it’s not me it will be, you know, someone else can talk to you it will be great.

Robert: Well that’s amazing, I appreciate that very much. Listen Greg, thank you so much for doing this man.

Robert: Thank you.

Robert: Alright take care.

Greg: Thank you talk soon, bye, bye.

Robert: Bye.

About Greg Grunberg
Growing Up Grunny

I’m that rare breed –The Los Angeles Native. I am a survivor of Roscomare Elementary school, Emerson Junior High in Westwood and then University High in West LA. I was dating all my teachers…and that’s how I passed. Well, barely passed.

I have an older brother Brad and a younger sister Tiffany. Brad’s probably one of the funniest guys in the world, and thank god he’s an actor so everyone gets to see how funny he is. He was doing stand up a few years ago and his nickname was Johnny Cocktails. My parents were very, very proud of that.

Meet the Parents

My mom was a supportive theatrical mother who taught me how to dodge bullets and improv my way out of most situations — two handy skills that I still use today. Dad was in the shmata business. He was very entrepreneurial, and I get that from him – I actually act on my crazy ideas. (My character on “Felicity” was basically based on me.) One of the things Dad did was manufacture leotards, and I used to sell the samples in sorority houses:

“Hello girls! Can I interest you in a Superman leotard with the suspenders? Or maybe I can interest you in a pair of bikini briefs? Let me help you with those…Oh what beautiful, silky skin you have.”

It was a good gig for a guy trying to make his way through college.

Friends

My biggest stroke of luck took place in a sandbox when I was three years old. There I met Jeffrey Jacob Abrams, better known as J.J. Abrams, who is currently taking over Hollywood. Every day after school, we’d get a snack and go to his house. We’d do all kinds of stuff – magic, art, clay…and prank phone calls! Those were a big thing for us. We were very creative and mature for our age.

Most people know that J.J put me in “Felicity” and “Alias,” but he actually cast me in my very first movie. I was six.

It was a little mini movie on super 8, also starring Jonathan Roberts, Matt Reeves (he directed “Cloverfield”), Bryan Burk (one of the executive producers of “Fringe”), Jesse Alexander (one of the original executive producers of “Heroes”), and Jason Brooks (he’s HUGE in the soap world, you should IMDB him)…the elementary school sandbox was a true power hub.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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