We have talked a lot about Web 3.0 and Context. Today, we begin an interview series with Mike Stacy, CEO of an Online Travel company called Groople, which has zeroed in on the context of Group Travel. It’s a very interesting niche, and we will explore Mike’s story of building Groople.
SM: Please describe your personal background : Family, upbringing, early career, etc. leading up to Groople. MS:
I was raised in Saginaw, a small town in Michigan. I learned a lot about what makes a business viable from my father, who was a banker in town. It was his job to make the final call on whether or not the bank would offer a business loan to a company or individual. Does the company have a solid plan? Is it a good business opportunity? Are they strong leaders? Even as I made my way up the corporate ladder, so to speak, I always thought about the traits of a business and a leader that equaled success and put them into play whether I was leading a small team or a large division.
In 1996, as the Internet was taking off, I moved to Seattle to work on Microsoft’s Seattle Sidewalk website. I knew then that the Internet was where I wanted to be. I joined Travelocity in 1998 to head up their advertising, and later run marketing for the company. The Internet and travel were and still are a perfect pair, and we built Travelocity into a leading travel brand. When I joined Cheap Tickets in 2003, I saw an opportunity to take a brand that was struggling and turn it around. A year-and-a-half later we went from losing close to $80 million to a profitable run rate.
Groople was another company that I knew could be a huge success. I see group travel on the Internet in much the same way I saw travel on the Internet when I joined Travelocity: an area with enormous growth and success potential that is just really in its infancy. Yes, it is and has been a challenge to build the company, but it’s a great business opportunity and we have a solid plan and a strong team.