Many a company is the result of a loss or a hobby (that got out of hand), but with Willem and Teun Bontrup, owners of VisDeal and VisDealshop, this is by no means the case. As born entrepreneurs, they mainly look at the opportunities offered by certain markets and how they can convert these into as many orders as possible. “Turnover still doubles every year.”
The brothers started their entrepreneurial adventure in 2011 with the daily deal-site VisDeal. “We strongly believe in a model like Groupon and iBood, although we think it is more lucrative to specialize in a certain niche. After thorough market research, the fish industry came out on top. “Fishing has an unprecedented number of products. And with over 5 percent of the population fishing, that means the market is big enough.”
Become number 1 on the market
By buying residual batches from angling specialists, making sets of them and offering them at a competitive price, VisDeal quickly managed to win over the consumer. And the suppliers are also finding the company better and better. “In the beginning we had to take a hike to be able to buy products, but now we are working with about 100 suppliers. We also have our own production line in China, which means that we have many millions of products in stock as standard.
The ever-increasing range of products combined with the demand of the angler to buy competitively priced items at any given time, resulted in the company being expanded with a webshop in 2014. VisDealshop now contains more than 18,000 articles and accounts for 35 percent of turnover. Together, the labels ensure that more than 450 orders have to be processed every day, of which about half go abroad.
In addition to the Netherlands, VisDeal(shop) is active in Belgium, France, Germany, England and Denmark. But the ultimate goal of the brothers is to conquer the whole of Europe. “We want to become and remain the number 1 on the market.” In order to achieve this, the brothers are strongly committed to increasing turnover and brand awareness. This is done via the usual online marketing channels such as SEO and SEA, but also via Facebook ads and retargeting campaigns.
“It’s nice to work with a party that really knows how it works.”
As was the case when the company was founded, the brothers went to great lengths in their search for a suitable cooperation partner. “Our ambitions are not insignificant, but then you have to work with an experienced party. At AdResults, we immediately had a good feeling. Moreover, they have a good track record and that’s what it’s all about in the end.”
In the Netherlands, VisDeal(shop) already belongs to the top. But since the brothers want to become market leader of all European fishing countries, there is still a lot of work to be done. Because the deals are mainly promoted through the (daily) newsletter, the emphasis in the first few years was on recruiting newsletter members. “We now have over 350,000 subscribers, but together with AdResults we should be able to make at least 1 million of them.
By keeping up with the experience of a certain type of fisherman, VisDeal tries to make the deals as attractive as possible for its subscribers. “You would expect anglers to behave in a similar way, but a carp angler requires a very different approach than a fly angler. That’s why VisDeal(shop) ensures that the newsletter is segmented by target group, so that the most relevant deals come first. Each newsletter also receives a title that is most interesting for that type of fisherman.
In addition, since the beginning of 2017, together with AdResults, considerable use has been made of the business opportunities offered by Facebook. “Through targeted advertisements, AdResults was able to attract some 200,000 anglers to us in a short period of time. An internal social media expert then ensures that the followers are provided with interesting fish facts, appropriate photos and funny films on a daily basis. “Recently, a post received 50,000 responses. Numerous people were tagged in and it was shared several times, giving us a reach of 2.5 million people! Of course, it’s not always such a party, but sometimes you hit it well.”
“We now have over 350,000 subscribers, but together with AdResults we should be able to make at least 1 million of them.
‘The fish sector still offers plenty of opportunities’
Now that both the number of deals and the number of subscribers have increased significantly, the focus can be shifted to direct sales. This is done through retargeting campaigns, among other things. “The good thing about AdResults is that they also dare to slow us down. We sometimes want to turn our enthusiasm upside down, but then our consultant safely says that we need to temper for a while in order to avoid a counterproductive effect. Because AdResults is so involved and sincere, we also like to involve them in other business issues, such as the consideration of whether we should set up a loyalty programme.”
The question of whether it is wise to roll out the concept in other sectors also arises from time to time. Although Teun and Willem want to focus entirely on the angling enthusiast in the near future, they do not rule out the possibility that the business model will be used more widely in the long run. But for now, the fishing industry still offers plenty of opportunities. “We still manage to at least double our turnover every year. And if it’s up to us, we’ll stick to that line for a while.”