Gruupy, a group buying site for gadget fans, gets official UK push

Gruupy, the Ireland-based group buying site for gadget fans, has officially launched in the UK. The format is a familiar one: offer one deal a day that only becomes active if enough users commit to purchasing the item in a single 24 hour period. So far Gruupy has offered headline items such as discounted iPads, netbooks, and Xbox 360s.

But the young startup, which is part bootstrapped and part angel-funded by its chairman and serial Internet entrepreneur Dylan Collins, is also building in what it describes as “community and social mechanics” by rewarding activity on the site, not just purchasing but also things like comments. For now, that appears to translate into Foursquare-style badges for, say, hitting the 20 comment mark (“Chatterbox”) or being the first to put down on a deal (“Fire Starter”). It’s slightly gimmicky but fits in with the overall light-hearted tone of the site and isn’t exactly hard to build.

“So rather than an e-commerce site, we’re genuinely trying to create a buying community”, says CEO Philip Meagher. He then goes on to talk up the “huge opportunity” in targeted or specialist e-commerce, citing Amazon’s acquisition of Woot and Zappos as proof. Exit strategy anyone?

Of course, the startup is still very early stage to be talking about the end game but also claims to be ahead of its business plan and says that in the first month since opening shop, about 15% of customers have made a second purchase. It’s also starting to talk to investors in order to scale up the business.

“The community approach we’ve taken has really helped build credibility against the likes of Amazon, Dabs, Komplett”, says Meagher.