In this exclusive interview with ValiantCEO Magazine, Ali Linz, Co-Founder of GroupTogether, shares insights on her company’s journey to becoming Australia’s most popular group gifting website and their recent expansion to the US.
Linz explains how GroupTogether’s technology makes it easy to organize group gifts and the company’s focus on growth in the US market. She also touches on the challenges of running a company and the importance of listening to customers.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Ali Linz: Hi, I’m Ali Linz – Co-Founder of GroupTogether. We’re Australia’s most popular group gifting website. Think you haven’t heard of us? You’ve probably used us – for office farewells, birthdays, teacher gifts and everything in between.
If you’ve used our website to chip in online and contribute to a gift, sign the card and maybe even add a gif or a pic, then you would be one of 1 million Aussies who used GroupTogether last year.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffett, how would you describe your company, services, or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Ali Linz: First of all, my brain has rubbish facial recognition technology so I’d likely not recognise Warren Buffet in the lift and would start chatting to him about the news. But if I did recognise him… I’d say thanks for his great maths insight about compound interest because GroupTogether works a bit like that. It’s inherently viral – one friend invites a group, who then invites their friends for a group gift and so on, we keep doubling and doubling and doubling.
The real “elevator pitch”? GroupTogether makes it easy to organise a group gift. You just share a link to let friends and colleagues chip in and sign the card online. You can buy a gift card or gift from GroupTogether or transfer the funds. It’s simple tech for a painful problem.
In the past year, what is the greatest business achievement you’d like to celebrate with your team? Please share the details of that success.
Ali Linz: We’ve ticked off a handful of milestones in the past year and have some cool numbers to share – we had 1 million users on GroupTogether in Australia in the last financial year and GroupTogether helped Aussies facilitate over $16 million in thoughtful gifts.
Someone chips and contributes to a group gift via GroupTogether every 30 seconds in Australia, and I’m most excited about just having launched in the US. We already have 250k users in the US who are using our product right now.
What advice do you wish you received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Ali Linz: I’m kind of glad we didn’t go looking for too much advice at the start. We had deep knowledge of our customers and we kept listening to them. That guided most of our decisions. When we listened to “experts” instead of our customers, we had to undo it later.
Now we’re at the next stage and ready for advice. So, next quarter, more meetings and more asking smart people for their ideas, especially in the US.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Ali Linz: GroupTogether really took off during Covid. You can’t pass the envelope around the office for “Mike’s” farewell now that so many people work remotely or have flexible working arrangements.
You need a digital solution so that everyone can chip in, sign the card and then send a gift; all online. Although big business is keen to get people back to the office, the horse has bolted and there’s no sign of the horses wanting to be sent back to the office 5 days a week any time soon. So that’s great for GroupTogether.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Ali Linz: It’s always about growth. Even though we’re viral and friends bring friends, the next challenge is to get better, and bigger in the US.
2020, 2021, 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Ali Linz: Get good people, the best you can afford and love them.
Release a Minimum Viable Product first – the most basic version of what customers want. I know your perfectionist tendencies will want to add ten other features. Try to resist. The further down the track you get, the harder it’ll be to pivot or rework to get it right.
Keep getting feedback from your customers – constantly, forever. And listen.
Use JIRA, the Atlassian tool that lets you track and manage your bug list and feature releases. It changes the management of your team from trying to monitor their hours to monitoring deliverables and it’s much more motivating.
Listen to the Y Combinator start up school podcast series. It might save you making 1 million of your own boo boos.
Progress over perfection.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Ali Linz: Charm and sense of humour when dealing with people.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Ali Linz: Success in the US and continued growth in Australia.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Ali Linz for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Ali Linz or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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