The casual CIO

The casual CIO

Daily deals website GrabOne may be growing rapidly but that does not mean it is about to turn into a big corporate.

Daily deals website GrabOne may be growing rapidly but that does not mean it is about to turn into a big corporate. Dave Agent, who has been with the company since its fruition around 16 months ago, wears the hats of IT director, CTO and CIO but says one of the great things about the company is the absence of fixed titles.

The Auckland staff work in an open plan office and there is no need for an arranged meeting if one of them needs to discuss something with Agent or CEO and founder Shane Bradley, with whom Agent started working six years ago in trading websites Finda and Sella.

Agent realises the company has a different philosophy and modus operandi than most businesses and says it is a “healthy” way of doing business which “keeps energy levels up” and leads to “trying new things and getting things done”. So far, he says, “it is proving successful”.

The company, headquartered in Auckland, employs over 100 staff. Its projects portfolio continues to grow (GrabOne Families, a site with deals for family activities, has just been launched) and so new staff are being welcomed into the team.

“We are growing and we are feeling it, in a good way,” says Agent. The CIO has a team of 19 and 11 of them are web developers.

Agent says the company is now “focusing on mobile in a big way”. This involves the creation of mobile applications for both consumers and merchants. According to Agent, this too will involve new hires. He says mobile sales continue to climb and, with a move towards tailoring deals based on geolocation, the climb is expected to get even steeper.

Additionally, after adding a presence in Australia and Ireland a few months ago, the company is planning to expand into more countries, which will eventually lead to more staff and put more weight into the IT infrastructure.

Agent says GrabOne is growing at a comfortable pace and all the new projects are “exciting” but also carefully planned.

Working for a company that has a strictly online presence has some obvious advantages but also leads to some challenges.

The “speed to market” is much faster and the way the business works is “more dynamic”, says Agent. But when things go wrong – and they inevitably do, occasionally - “it is all awfully public.”

A sound IT infrastructure is crucial for a business like GrabOne. Agent says all servers are constantly monitored and the team uses analytics software to track the performance of all their websites.

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