Crash coma resulted in ripper of an idea

Last updated 05:00 14/04/2014

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Enis Bacova's latest business idea came to him after he crashed his motorbike and spent 48 hours in a coma.

The Auckland businessman, originally from Albania, has designed and launched Rippr - a web-based loyalty scheme business which rewards people for being social.

The concept allows people to create groups which receive rewards from businesses.

The more people that join the group the more discounts members of that group receive from businesses.

During its trial period 10 Auckland retailers signed up to Rippr and managed to attract 10,000 users to the platform.

Rippr began seeking funding in June, with one existing retailer investing $100,000.

Bacova, a former restaurant owner, was now looking to raise an additional $160,000, or 10 per cent of equity on a $1.6 million valuation, through equity crowd funding site Snowball Effect.

A full version of Rippr, including a free mobile app, will launch in May, with the aim of 100 paying retailers by September 2014.

Why did you start your own business?

In 2010, I went on holiday to my homeland Albania where I crashed a motorbike at nearly 100kmh without a helmet.

In addition to breaking my hip and a number of ribs, I split my head open and spent 48 hours in a coma. It took me six months to recover and Rippr came out of those six months of thinking.

What have been the biggest obstacles in starting up your business?

Getting people to understand your vision. Understanding your why, how and what and being able to survive in tough times with low or no cash. Also, creating a team and sharing the idea and vision, without being paranoid that someone will steal it.

Name one thing you've learnt in your business journey so far and from who?

Sometimes customers can be your best teachers. My customers taught me some very important patterns of human interactions. I've seen how in crowds our experiences amplify. They amplify even more, the more we are connected, communicate and interact.

What are your business and personal goals?

My business goal is to transform shopping to a socially fun and rewarding experience for everyone, by increasing the value of your dollar when you shop as a community. My personal goal is to help others amplify their shopping experiences.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?

Think about what business you are in, who your customer is and why they should buy from you. Build a minimum viable product and test it with customers in the market. Learn from the experience and enhance the product.

What have you sacrificed to be an entrepreneur?

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I haven't sacrificed anything because I had nothing to lose.

Are you prepared for failure?

I fight failure with determination. Failure does not exist. Death does. I have tasted death and I am prepared to taste it again.

Who is your business guru, or who do you admire, and why?

My business guru is Steve Jobs. I admire him for his insane determination, beautiful expression and quick decision making.

What do you do in your downtime?

I play violin, pray and spend time at The Icehouse (business incubation hub).

Do you think businesses should "give back" to the community?

Absolutely! Social responsibility is tomorrow's competitive advantage. Rippr's core proposition is helping retailers to give more to those who buy united as community.

What has been your biggest disappointment?

No disappointments.

What is one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you?

I never finished high school and I was given C- in the entrepreneurship paper for my MBA.


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