Interview with Jesse Katz, Founder of EF Buys


I recently had the opportunity to interview Jesse Katz, entrepreneur and founder of  

Here's what he had to say:  

1. What is EF Buys?  

EF Buys is Groupon for entrepreneurs.  We've already offered small business owners discounts on Starbucks, Moo business cards, StumbleUpon Ads, logo design, online computer backup, etc.

2. What makes your site different?

Small business owners are very well meaning at heart, but very few business have the time or money to make a change in the community.  We just launched a program that enables small business owners to contribute to a really cool cause, without changing their behavior.  For every purchasing user, we donate $5 to, the award winning microlending charity.  I feel that we go full circle because we are a small business, and we help other small businesses, but together, we combine to help microbusinesses.  I hope this trend of social good takes off in the next few years, because as Americans, we're pretty damn privileged.

[To donate $5 from your first purchase to Kiva, and also get $2 in deal credit, go to and use the code 'KIVA5']

3. Why Kiva?

Entrepreneurs in 3rd world countries are very near to my heart.  In 2009 I spent 10 months volunteering and traveling in South East Asia, India and Nepal.  In 2005 I had a similar 6 month trip.  Over those travels, I've met and been influenced by some fantastic locals.  It seems like a natural fit me, and for the small business owners buying our offers.  As a side note, taking time off to travel was one of the best things I've ever done.  Most Europeans travel for large chunks of time.   I guess it's never really caught on here.

4. What are your thoughts on the recent negative press Groupon and the daily deal space has gotten?

Well, first, I think our model is different because we have a B2B play, where Groupon and every other clone targets consumers.  Most of the horror stories I've seen are restaurants that lost money by running an offer.  Business services have a much higher customer lifetime value, so it make sense for them to take a small upfront loss because they have a higher customer lifetime value  But when it comes to restaurants, I like to try new places, so the restaurant has trouble making it's money back.  I think a lot of the onus is on the restaurant because they are looking at Groupon as a godsend, instead of as marketing, which implies some risk.  If I have a poor campaign with Google Ads, I'm not going to say Google has a horrible business model, but that seems to be what's happening with Groupon.

5.  In college you majored in Cognitive Neuroscience, right? How'd you end up founding a website?

My favorite area within the field is human behavioral patterning, in fact, I almost took a job doing behavior modeling of disease outbreaks and terror attacks for DARPA.  It was somewhere in the sticks in Kansas, and I love California too much. Analytics is a different kind of human behavioral patterning, but we get real time data on million of data points.

6. Any real life examples of Cognitive Neuroscience in action?

In the occipital lobe, our visual cortex, we have certain neurons that are only responsible for recognizing lines, others responsible for recognizing the end of lines, and others responsible for recognizing colors.  This is how we recognize shapes. On a website, we turn these shapes into letters, and then send them to our temporal lobe to make sense of everything.  The harder it is to recognize these letters, the more processing power it takes to realize actual meaning.  So remember back to MySpace in the early days. You could upload a background picture which would interfere with processing the text.  If MySpace had made the pages easier on the eyes and easier to read, they probably would be in a better position today.


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