Kipp’s one-on-one with Donna Benton
Founder of The Entertainer speaks to Kipp about her brainchild as she gears up for the 2013 edition of the two-for-one voucher books.
November 7, 2012 4:38 by M. Aldalou
Donna Benton exudes passion and confidence in her concept; she knows it’s a great one and she knows that it works. Her name may not immediately strike a bell with you but thousands of UAE residents would recall saving a lot of money when eating a delicious meal, staying in a luxury hotel room or enjoying an all-day trip to a water park and it’s all thanks to her. She is the Chief Executive Officer of “The Entertainer”, the popular two-for-one voucher books that over 125,000 UAE residents buy every year.
The Entertainer is her brainchild, having thought of the concept over 12 years ago when she was called in from Melbourne, Australia for a job in the Emirates. While driving down Sheikh Zayed Road in 2001, she noticed the amount of restaurants there were but also the lack of incentive they offered for people to take time out of their day and visit a restaurant they’ve never been to before; and the rest is history.
One of the key moments in The Entertainer’s history came earlier this year, when it was announced that Dubai-based equity firm Abraaj Capital would be swooping up a whopping 50 percent stake of the company in a large investment. This financial push would help fuel Donna’s plans to expand into a world-wide company and grab a bigger slice of the billion-dollar market.
As ‘The Entertainer’ gears up for the release of its annual 2013 collection for the GCC, Kipp speaks to Benton about the early days, the present and the future. First, we wanted to know what she dreamed of being in her childhood years.
“I actually, at one point, wanted to be a policewoman,” she laughs. “I went through the policewoman phase, the ‘wanting to be a teacher phase’ but after all that, I did know quite early on that I wanted to own and run my own business.”
What kind of business?
I had no idea but I did know I wanted to run my own business. I think I’m a good worker with a good worth ethic and I knew I could pass that down to other people. Even when I was at school I had responsible positions in part-time work and I’ve always felt like a leader.
I won’t ask you how you came up with the idea but rather, why do you think nobody else came up with it?
I think people do think of concepts – which is the easy part – but I think actually doing them is the hard part. Everybody has an idea but I think people thought it was easier said than done. I just believe that I found a niche in the market and just went for it. Twelve years ago, I just thought of it and just did it.
Were restaurants your main focus?
When I thought of the concept, I definitely knew restaurants would were going to be the bulk of it. So there were restaurants, attractions and – even in my first book – beauty outlets and salons but yes, restaurants made up 70 percent of the book.
Why the name ‘The Entertainer’ then?
I went through quite a few names and I had to choose a name where it was applicable to dining, attractions, leisure. It was always around ‘entertaining’ and something with a very strong lifestyle feel.
Do you actually have competitors in the UAE?
You’ve got daily deal sites obviously but we’re totally different than them. They’re black, we’re white, we’ve got our model and they’ve got theirs. For us, nobody’s got the same book or the same concept we have here.
Kipper, flip the page
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