Jumping on a Success Story: Colin Fabig


Bullet Bio

  • Born: 1 Nov 1969, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • School: St Stithian’s College
  • Studied: University of the Witwatersrand, B.Comm Marketing and Finance
  • Lives in: Sydney, Australia (since 1999)
  • Likes:  Beach Volleyball, Conceptual Art, Futurism


Serial internet entrepreneur, Colin Fabig, originally from South Africa, co-founded and launched Jump On It in Australia in May 2010, backed by A$1.3million funding from a consortium of investors including Roger Allen (venture capitalist). Jump On It quickly became one of the leading daily deals sites in Australia. In November 2010, Jump On It received an investment of $5million from LivingSocial, the world’s second largest daily deals site. LivingSocial subsequently announced its launch in Australia, with Colin heading up the local operations.


1. Why did you come to Australia and what do you like about living here?

I backpacked around the world in 1993 and decided Sydney was the best city I had been to and the culture was very relaxed and friendly. I went to a seminar about getting visas for Australia if you started your own business and managed to employ a certain number of employees and reach certain turnovers within certain times. I took up the challenge.

2. What was the defining moment of your career? Or did you have a lucky break?

This was in my second job as a commodities trader. I had a great job importing and broking shiploads of meat into South Africa when a friend suggested I come up with some ideas for a new industry that was starting — premium phone services. I came up with a few interactive games and got them started in my part-time with one of the premium phone service providers. I made R250,000 part-time in my first month and so resigned the same month and from then on have been a self-employed entrepreneur and never looked back.

3. What are your biggest achievements?

My latest business – LivingSocial Australia-New Zealand. It is the Australia’s leading daily deal business and one of the top 5 daily deal businesses in the world. We started two years ago and now have 250 staff, over 2 million subscribers to our daily emails and expected revenues in excess of A$100 million per annum.

4. Group discount sites — is everybody a winner or do businesses actually lose money through such low prices and unmanageable demand?

It is a win-win propostion for customers and merchants. Merchants list on our site to gain massive exposure for their business and attract new clients at no upfront risk or cost, instead of wasting advertising dollars. We promote the merchant to hundreds of thousands, (and in some cases millions) of customers on our websites, by email, via our Facebook fans and via affiliated online channels — all on a free / performance-only basis. Most LivingSocial merchants get in excess of $20,000 worth of free promotion on a deal. We liaise closely with them to manage their new customer capacity and 70%+ merchants renew their agreements with us. Most merchants now realise this is the most cost-effective channel there is, to acquire new customers. Their challenge is to treat their new trial customers like gold, so that they become regulars.

5. How do Jump on It and LivingSocial differentiate themselves from Groupon and Spreets?

We have more deal variety and more localised deals. LivingSocial offers daily deals in 30 segmented regions across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth — with customers choosing the area where they would prefer to get deals from. We also have a specialised travel section called Escapes and as well as separate Family deals. The combination of all these offerings deals help our subscribers get the most out of their city.

6. Who has inspired you?

Nelson Mandela, one of the few world leaders with complete integrity. Bill Gates, who reinvented the world through computers and is now making a massive difference with his charity efforts. Anthony Robbins, a man who has made millions of people happy and inspired.

7. How would you describe your leadership style?

I’d say I’m an MBWA manager: Management By Walking Around. I have also always had business founder partners rather than being a lone wolf entrepreneur. In LivingSocial we have created a very sociable, young and fun atmosphere with regular company paid-for work parties and events. We recently took a Friday off to have a LivingSocial Olympics. The staff were placed in 20 teams and played a range of games from soccer to egg and spoon races, which everyone really enjoyed.

8. What’s the most important lesson you have learnt about business, and in particular online business?

Start-up businesses require very smart, confident and committed founders. I have worked in seven start-up business with over 18 different “founder partners”. The biggest challenge has been managing those relationships as the business grows. Founders either sink or swim –  or sometimes sink and then re-surface further ahead. Also balancing what are essentially close friendships with making sure the business is running optimally, is an ongoing feat.

On a slightly different note, I have learnt from the LivingSocial experience that once you have a proven, working model like the daily deals business, it is very important to be fully committed to growth, putting your pedal to the metal to get ahead of the competitors, scaling as fast as you can to get to number one, by building new lines of business, resourcing and staffing up ahead of the curve, all of which brings the benefits of market leadership.

9. What advice would you give to other South Africans who want to achieve professional success in Australia?

Just stay positive and use that Seffrican energy to push forward. If you’re a web entrepreneur you need passion, drive, single-mindedness and the ability to make bold moves. In business it’s about taking decisive action and making adjustments from each set of results, until a model is working.  Get busy selling yourself and your business asap.


This article originally appeared on The South African in 2012.



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