Heroes star Greg Grunberg bares all in the above parody proving he has a great sense of humor. The Alias alum is also quite the entrepreneur! The father-of-three is the brains behind Yowza!!, the leading location-based mobile coupon app.
Greg opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about the evolution of Yowza!! and his three sons Jake, 15, Ben, 12, and Sam, 8, who are into baseball and Taekwondo. The hands-on dad also talks about his eldest son’s struggles with epilepsy and Talk About It, his website about epilepsy awareness and education.
CBS: Tell us about Yowza!! What inspired you to co-found the company?
GG: “I’ve always been an early adopter to everything tech-related over the years. I was one of the first people on Twitter and I have always been interested in Apple products. When the iPhone came out and people started developing apps, I was one of the early people thinking of the next great app idea–now everyone is too. Back then I was thinking, what is going to solve a problem and what is going to help people? What can make life easier?
My wife and I are as frugal as any normal family; we have three boys and are always trying to save money wherever we can. We are not crazy couponers, but we are always looking for the best deals just like everyone else right now.
So, cut to walking into Bed, Bath and Beyond, which is a store that you just don’t shop at unless you have the 20%-off cardboard brick that they send you in the mail. We had about thirteen of them in the car-door compartment of our car, but we forgot to bring them. I was like, ‘Oh, just forget it.’ We went in the store and I thought, why doesn’t someone harness the GPS technology in today’s phones and build an app that knows where you are and contains all the coupons? You can simply show them to the register and they can scan the barcode or read off the coupon code; make it easy. I am the one spending money, I am the patron, you know? The customer is always right, yet, I am the one doing all the work—clipping the coupon at home, bringing it with me, schlepping it around when I need it.
I thought, there has got to be a solution. Three weeks later I got a tweet on Twitter from a guy names August Trometer, who had developed a few apps that were already in the App Store. Back then, there were only about one thousand to two thousand apps in the App Store. He contacted me because he wanted to try to create an app for my charity band, Band From TV, that would help it raise more money. However, Apple does not have a charity component in the Apple Store, believe it or not. That conversation ended quickly on Twitter, and I called him and said, ‘Hey, I do have an idea.’ He went crazy! He was like, ‘This can be great!’ This was before Groupon and all of that other stuff.
We started developing the app and over the course of a year, he was building it in his spare time and I was financing it. I begged, borrowed, and stole from everywhere I could. I talked to everyone I knew that was connected to a retail store in order to get people on, because it was a chicken in the egg. Unless people are using it, it is not valuable to the retailers, and if the retailers aren’t using it, then the consumer doesn’t care.
Over the course of a few months, we started building it and we immediately got a national following. Now, about two years later, we have gone through one round of financing and are in the middle of another round. We’ve got twelve people working for the company, and we have millions of people using it in tens of thousands of locations nationwide.
The bigger problem with the app is reminding people to open it and reminding people to use it. We push-notify deals to them. It is still free, the deals are great, and there are huge retailers coming on all the time. It is an exciting thing! I did this viral video to get people’s attention that was a spoof of a video for Dollar Shave Club. We are having fun with it, and my job is to get the word out. That is the big advantage I have in all my projects…I have a platform and I try to use it for good. I do that mostly with charity, but this is a way to let people know, ‘Hey, do you want to save money? Download this app. It’s free, it works across the nation, and there is always a great deal in your area.”
CBS: Tell us about starring in the video for Yowza!! How did you choose to parody the Dollar Shave Club video?
FF: “First of all, that video went crazy viral. It’s got over three million hits, and we have someone who sits on our board who also invested in Dollar Shave Club. He sent the video to us early on and said, ‘This is something really great that you should see.’ I loved the video! I think that Mike is just awesome in front of the camera and he has great ideas. I was really impressed with it and thought, ‘Okay, let’s also set something up in a huge way.’ I am very proud of it; I think it is a really funny video, and we’ve gotten a huge response so far. I am a big fan of the Dollar Shave Club concept and the video they made.”
CBS: Tell us about your three sons. What are their names and ages, and what are they in to?
GG: “My wife and I have three beautiful boys. The youngest is Sam, and he is 8 years old. Then there is Ben, who is 12-years-old, and our 15-year-old is Jake. They are all big sports guys; both Ben and Sam are into baseball like nobody’s business. They both love playing baseball, and luckily on the West Coast they can basically play it year-round. Jake is a black belt in Taekwondo and loves that activity.
They all love music and video games, and they like to see me when I show up in a video game. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff I have done on-screen for Felicity, Alias, and Heroes is not appropriate for kids [laughs]. My kids are the most important aspects of my life, and I love spending time with them.”
CBS: What do you like most about being a dad?
GG: “I love the discovery; you get to discover things and see things through their eyes in a fresh way. It has been so long since I actually discovered something. I am in my forties…I have seen it all and have done it all. To see how they get excited about things…it makes thing fresh again. Like I said, they are everything; everything else pales in comparison. Nothing else matters other than my family, my wife, and my kids. I love it; I just love everything about being a dad.”
CBS: How do you bond with your sons? Do you have a favorite memory with your kids that you’d like to share?
GG: “I try coaching their sports teams. As far as individually bonding with them, my wife and I do something very important that we call ‘Special Nights.’ I will take one son out, just the two of us, and go wherever he wants to go. The other night I took Sam out bowling, and then we went to King’s Fish House and had dinner. Afterwards, we went to a café for dessert. He was like, ‘We get to go to another restaurant just for dessert?!’ I was like, ‘Yeah!’
It’s just the simple things, you know? It doesn’t matter what you’re doing—you don’t have to spend a lot of money or go crazy. Just being there and having that one-on-one special time is really important. We do a lot of stuff as a family together, but having that one-on-one special time is very important. My parents did it with me when I was a kid, and it is something that I always remember.
In regard to a favorite memory with my kids, I have a couple. I love watching them in school performances. That’s one of my favorite things, because I am not a stage dad; I see the other parents going crazy and I just sit back and watch them. I love that stuff. One of my favorite memories that sticks with me is cuddling them and putting them to bed at night. I have a 15-year-old, a 12-year-old, and an 8-year-old. The days are going by so quickly, and they are growing up so fast.
My wife and I really learned to cherish all these moments that we have. They still want to hold our hand, they still want to cuddle, and they still think that we know what we’re talking about. My 15-year-old is getting to the point where he thinks I am the dumbest person on the planet [laughs]. It is really just family occasions, and I love cooking with them too. We will watch a cooking show and then all go into the kitchen and try to cook what we just saw on TV.”
CBS: What do you plan to do with your family this summer?
GG: “We are going to Cooperstown. My son is on a travel baseball team, and there is this incredible facility in Cooperstown, which also has the Baseball Hall of Fame. The facility has the most amazing field and a tournament there that you have to be invited to. My son’s team is going and we are making a family trip and renting a house in Cooperstown. We are looking forward to it; it will be a lot of fun. Like I said, my kids live and breathe baseball. They love it!”
CBS: You also launched Talk About It, a website about epilepsy awareness and education. Can you tell us about it?
GG: “Talk About It is an incredibly important passion project for me. It is a foundation I launched because my oldest son, Jake, has epilepsy and he’s been dealing with seizures since he was seven. His seizures are under control through medication. ‘We never settle’ is the message that I try to tell people . There are five million people in this country that are dealing with epilepsy, seizure disorders, or head trauma. You just have to really keep pushing until you find the right combination of medicine and treatment, if you can, in order to get your seizures under control.
A lot of times, epilepsy and seizure disorders are very lonely conditions to have. It is scary to see someone have a seizure, so a lot of people don’t talk about it. We launched Talk About It for that very reason: to tell people that they are not alone and that there are people out there that are just like them and care about them. There needs to be an open dialogue about this so that your teacher, your coach, your friends, and your family will know you can possibly have a seizure and also know the proper thing to do if this occurs.
There is a myth that typically everybody thinks of: If someone is having a seizure, stick something in his or her mouth so they don’t choke on their own tongue. That is the biggest myth and it should never happen. Never ever stick anything in anybody’s mouth if he or she is having a seizure. The website contains that kind of knowledge, those little things that you should know about seizures. It is also a place for people to exchange information, so it is kind of like a Facebook for the epilepsy community. It is very successful and is changing people’s lives. It is helping a lot of people, and I am very proud of it.”
CBS: What other projects are you working on?
GG: “I put together a band, Band From TV, with Hugh Laurie, Teri Hatcher, James Denton, Jessie Spencer, Adrian Pasdar, Bob Guiney, Scott Grimes, Wayne Brady, and a bunch of other guest stars. We raise millions of dollars for charity and we take on corporate gigs. Our website is bandfromtv.org. People can go there and request us to play at their party. We played for American Idol and The Tonight Show, and we’ve done a lot of things all over the country. I am busy with that, but I am also shooting a new pilot for a CBS sitcom that I am really excited about. In addition, I also just finished a couple of sci-fi movies; I am busy, but I am managing it all. It is great.”