Pivoting for Profit

Just build a _____ profitable business!

David Heinemeier Hansson, This Week in Startups #46 (1:10:45)

My Lessons Learned - Make a Profit
My Lessons Learned - Make a Profit

Reflection

In the spirit of Agile, here’s my retrospective on when we realized the primary objective is to build a business & not to get funded.

Inflating Our Own Bubble

TechCrunch50 2009

Back in June 2009, I read about the TechCrunch50 2009 contest & while we barely had any running code, submitted an entry. My collaborators thought it was a bit of a stretch, but we all agreed it’s nice to set goals. So while trying to get a grip on what was required of us, I immersed myself in TechCrunch stuff. From what I understood, there was a common theme emerging – get funded & get out. And making it to the semi-finals only encouraged me.

I Think Our Bubble Has a Leak

Signed Copy of Guy Kawasaki's Reality Check
Signed Copy of Guy Kawasaki's Reality Check

We thought we had something that was so paradigm shifting, yet so simplistically obvious at the same time, that we’d have no trouble bringing on a CEO to help us reach Jason’s Promised Land. But it wasn’t happening like that. And as time passed, we realized that if we wanted to see our dream change the world then we couldn’t wait on someone else to make it happen.

Paradigm Shifting

That primed us for This Week in Startups #46 with David Heinemeier Hansson | ThisWeekIn.  Fast forward to 1:10:45 and there you have it.  It was paradigm shifting, yet so simplistically obvious. Just build a profitable business and the problem will be solved. Read his and Jason Fried’s Rework and you’ll get it too!

Trolling for Customer Development

The other day I was perusing Twitter when I saw Ben Yoskovitz’s

BeanSprout – a dating website for Business Development Partnerships: http://bit.ly/ivLRyf

A few tweets later, I was signed up and working with one of BeanSprout‘s founders – Artie Patel. I told him “Ideally, we’d like to hook up with someone like Localeze“. To which Artie responded; “They’re a customer of ours. Let’s see what we can do to help.”

Lessons To Learn

I’m actually planning on meeting Artie next week when they present at International Startup Festival – Montreal, Canada, July 13-15th 2011 where I’ll be volunteering for my Starving Startup ticket. Stay tuned for more details about how another startup delivered an awesome experience & whether it can help us learn to build a ______ profitable business.

(Thanks to Greg Meyer for tuning me into  experiences that @delivertheawsome.)

Related Links

Go out there and make some money!

Dan MartellTo Raise, Or Not To Raise | @MapleButter

Staying The Course When Being Disruptive Means Being Misunderstood

Bezos at shareholders mtg: “To do disruptive innovation, you have to be willing to be misunderstood for a very long time.”

@bingfish bing gordon

Bingfish: Disruptive Innovation is Misunderstood
Bingfish: Disruptive Innovation is Misunderstood

Background

Not too long ago I posted about the To Pivot, or, Not To Pivot dilemma. In the end, I rationalized plotting a course towards a more fitting Minimal Viable Target Audience (MVTA) to run the next Experiment, to gather more metrics, before even thinking about the next Pivot.

That Explains Things

Regarding AnotherSocialEconomy.com, I relate to another Jeff Bezo statement:

We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details…. We don’t give up on things easily.

Regarding the bigger Innovation picture Jeff Bezo also stated:

A big piece of the story we tell ourselves about who we are, is that we are willing to invent. We are willing to think long-term. We start with the customer and work backwards. And, very importantly, we are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.

I believe if you don’t have that set of things in your corporate culture, then you can’t do large-scale invention. You can do incremental invention, which is critically important for any company. But it is very difficult — if you are not willing to be misunderstood. People will misunderstand you.

Lesson To Learn

For RIM (and I’m sure many others)

In stark contrast, just take a look at the Open letter to BlackBerry bosses: Senior RIM exec tells all as company crumbles around him.

1) Focus on the End User experience

Let’s obsess about what is best for the end user. We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice — the end user doesn’t care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren’t hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work

There’s certainly some passion left inside of RIM, maybe they just need to think back to their startup days. Maybe they need someone like  Jeff Bezo to backup the open letter author of:

It’s time to change the culture to deliver or move on and get out

For AnotherSocialEconomy

We’re staying the course! I still love it. And I still think it’s just a matter of time until we find same-minded collaborators who can help us be better understood.  In the meantime, while we do have the right culture, we are coachable, we still need to focus more on the end user experience.

Can You Spot My Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Moment? Part 2

#7. PRACTICE THE ART OF COLLISION

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a metaphor for life. What seems completely new is often just an unexpected combination of the familiar but previously disconnected. This is Innovation 101, but too often we forget, and think the one asset we have is the answer, rather than asking what we can bundle it with to transform its value.

Mark Payne on Blogging Innovation: The Ten Tenets of Transformation – Innovation blog articles, videos, and insights

Background

In my previous post, I described how I was struggling with my lean start-up sales and marketing efforts on seemingly two separate fronts. In keeping with my perseverance theme, here’s how I combining these two  into one complimentary offering, yet still affording me the possibility of either one, or, better yet both launching a business.

Ingredients

  1. My peanut butter – AnotherSocialEconomy: A service that anonymously connects consumers – who already know exactly what they want with local retailers – who actually have it in stock. It’s like Google Local Shopping only way simpler and more accessible for small and medium-size businesses (SMB).
  2. My chocolate – edu.cyn.in: A social software platform enabling collaboration not just within the class, school but across geographies. It’s like Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, MSN, Twitter, Blogger, Wikipedia, iTunes, Digg, Google Calendar and more, all in one integrated and monitored web site.

Directions

  1. Offer limited edu.cyn.in membership to local schools and organizations providing extra-curricular activities for free.
  2. Offer limited edu.cyn.in education and mentoring services to students, teachers, staff and parents on how to get the most of the platform with regard to sharing, commenting and rating content – for free.
  3. Offer limited edu.cyn.in education and mentoring services to students, teachers, staff and parents on how to get the most of the platform with regard to self-organizing projects and events thereby reducing phone calls and oodles of emails with attachments.
  4. Add AnotherSocialEconomy Widget to edu.cyn.in.
  5. Offer those edu organizations free local Sponsor links in edu.cyn.in.
  6. Offer those edu organizations the opportunity to become AnotherSocialEconomy Retailers, InfluencersResellers and/or Referrers.

(Should) Yield

Our Reeses Pieces should consist of a hyper-local (thanks Flack Maguire) online community of consumers and retailers/merchant/service providers. If we succeed in educating and mentoring are target edu.cyn.in audience, we could have one, or, two adult pair of eyes for every student pair of eyeballs. So one class of 25 students could yield anywhere between 2 and 50 additional eyeballs on edu.cyn.in. The better we educate and help folks adopt the social software, the greater chances we have of increasing those hyper-local eyeballs. The more eyeballs, the greater the chances we have of getting folks to use AnotherSocialEconomy’s Widget. More local consumers, more local merchants.

Additionally, since we’re also Cynapse Reseller, we’ve also introduced a whole new crop of highly qualified prospects into our sales funnel.

Stay Tuned

Please feel free to comment below and let me know your predictions. Will our ingredients yield another Reeses Pieces, or, is this plan going to curdle? Just remember, the alternative approach could be to pay Google AdWords $7500 a month for pay-per-click search engine marketing (SEM) and pray that’s cheaper than the time and hosting frees we’re currently investing.

Welcome to Google Local Shopping

This year, 46% of retail sales will be influenced by the web – but more than 90% of total retail transactions will occur in-store, from small neighborhood boutiques to national chains *. No matter where our users are shopping, we want to help them find your products.

Google Product Search

Google Product Search
Google Product Search

OMG this is amazing. I’m now competing with Google!

Just when I was killing myself with how to market AnotherSocialEconomy, I find this beta service from Google. Do you know what that means? Yes, Google already has all the eyeballs in the universe and yes, they could blow me out of the water at will.

But what that also means is that I no longer have to worry about finding my target audience. You see AnotherSocialEconomy brings retailers’ available supply to consumers’ demand. Pretty vague, eh? Try finding a good mix of AdWords keywords for a local buying network like that. It’s nuts. More importantly, it’s hugely expensive. Most importantly, customer cost of acquisition is astronomical.

With Google out there now, all I have to do is set my Google Alerts and other social media listening tools to “Google Local Shopping” and “Google Product Search”.  I could follow their Buzz  in the wake of their Wave & target my pitches.

For Starters

Not being a Merchant, I highly doubt I’ll ever manage to infiltrate their beta service. No matter. There’s plenty of others out there willing to share their experiences and opinions, such as, Google Local Shopping Tells Customers You Have It In StockGoogle’s Local Shopping Feature Now Open to Small Businesses and Google Local Shopping: cool new tool | OregonLive.com.

And that’s just cherry-picking. Plenty for me to research & plenty for me to post comments on.

Details… details… details…

As Lisa Barone says about Google Local Shopping:

It does seem like a small amount of work to get listed; however, anything you can do to make your products more available and searchable is a good thing.

AnotherSocialEconomy’s barrier for adoption is an email account and optionally, a modern browser with an Internet connection. That’s it! No multiple Merchant Accounts. As a matter of fact, registered Retail Sales Associates could also use their Twitter account / text messaging (SMS), Jabber Instant Messaging (IM) – like Google Talk, as well as, an Androida app. Basically, anyone with a smartphone is literally in business. There’s no XML data feeds to set up. No inventories to maintain.

Just details? Maybe, but the feedback I’ve gotten so far is that small/medium businesses (SMB) are living on smaller and smaller margins.  So the fewer details, the less investment in the service, the greater the return on investment. And vice versa.

AnotherSocialEconomy is not free

Consumers pay a token fee for requesting goods/services – Demand. And Retailers pay a token fee, as well, for proposing their Supply. Why? Well for starters, we hope to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio. Less noise going to the Retailers, means higher quality sales leads. Higher quality sales leads means higher quality Proposals going back to the Consumers. Higher quality Proposals, results in greater probability of closing sales.

But wait there’s more…

Ok, so AnotherSocialEconomy isn’t free. But it is another social economy. That means that it shares with its community members through its the Influencer, Reseller and Referrer programs.

Stay tuned

Be sure to come back & visit as I ride in the wake of Google’s Local Shopping wave trying my best to compare our competing services. Please feel free to share your own experiences, opinions and comparative thoughts.

Can You Spot My Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Moment? Part 1

#7. PRACTICE THE ART OF COLLISION

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a metaphor for life. What seems completely new is often just an unexpected combination of the familiar but previously disconnected. This is Innovation 101, but too often we forget, and think the one asset we have is the answer, rather than asking what we can bundle it with to transform its value.

Mark Payne on Blogging Innovation: The Ten Tenets of Transformation – Innovation blog articles, videos, and insights

Worlds Apart?
Worlds Apart?

The Chronicles

Peruse my blog and you’ll see I pretty much chronicle my experiences as an ultra light, non-funded, start-up entrepreneur. You’ll also see that I divide my time, not necessarily equally, among two main efforts: 1) called :Twetailer, which has morphed into :AnotherSocialEconomy and 2) :edu.cyn.in. While both were born out of a burning desire to correct something I found profoundly wrong, yet so “simple” to fix, I’ve always considered them to be worlds apart. That was until I tried to fill a void in my execution plans – sales & marketing. Now I know these are not subjects to be treated lightly but, in my own defense, I was primarily concerned about the Guy Kawasaki lesson How to Change the World: Defensibility. With all that reasonably taken care, I started educating myself on Search Engine Marketing (SEM). As a matter of fact, my very last post was how I used that new knowledge to rethink AnotherSocialEconomy’s :Widget. Who knew? It was not only another entry point/channel/stream into the system (remember, I’m a techie) but it actually competes – quite nicely, with Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Cost Per Click-through (CPC) and Cost Per Action (CPA).

Selling sucks

In the early days, I tried getting schools to pay for the edu.cyn.in service but, being a techie and not a sales rep, failed. There was either not enough budget to go around, not enough qualified staff to support the service, or, simply the FUD Factor (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt). But I’m a persistent bugger and based on my prior experience with social software on the Internet, within enterprises and even within schools, I  just couldn’t give up.

I knew the service was greatly appreciated by the kids. I knew the service was greatly appreciated by educators – albeit a special select few. And as a parent, I also knew the frustration of organizing events, committee meetings, car pools, other extra-curricular activities and even purchasing related goods and services.

And on top of all this pressure to sell edu into schools, I was still struggling to sell AnotherSocialEconomy – which needed a way to reach retailers & consumers.

Started getting that sinking feeling

Things just seemed to be getting worse.  Was I going to be one of those start-ups with a great idea – in my case, two great ideas that no one other than myself, Dom & a few others knew about? It’s not like I don’t know my limitations.  I think I’m a pretty good technical business analyst, software product manager, maybe even a social media manager. I love pre-sales demos, presenting at shows and conferences, have a pretty cool online education story to tell, love story telling and I’m pretty pleased with my stickman videos and presentation creations. But I just can’t seem to get past this marketing & sales hump. I’ve tried to bring in others but it just hasn’t gelled yet. Maybe some seed money would be the way to go. Either way, if I don’t get any traction, I’ll probably have to drop edu. Yikes! That would really hurt because not only have the Cynapse folks been more than fair with me (I’m also a struggling Reseller), it would mean that my daughter Sara & friends would lose the service.

Perseverance

Back in my IBM days, Perseverance was not only a welcomed characteristic, but encouraged too (by some). In a company of over 390,000 (at the time), it was all too easy to say things like; “I’m waiting for so-and-so to get back to me”, or, “Today’s first agenda item is to decide when we’ll meet again to discuss this matter”. If you truly wanted to make a difference, you had to persevere – you had to press on people, press a few buttons, or, as my wife Anna says, I just had to continue being the real pain in the ass I can be.

Dropping edu, dropping, AnotherSocialEconomy, getting a real job are options I’m just not ready to accept yet. What I really have to do is find a better way to persevere.

Suggestions?

Do you have any suggestions on how I can make edu & AnotherSocialEconomy work for each other? Stay tuned for Part 2.

Why Our Widgets Whip Click-Through, or, Pay Per Click Ads

CPM: Cost per thousand impressions
CPC: Cost per click-through
CPA: cost-per-action
Conversion Rate: The percentage of visitors who take a desired action
Customer Acquisition Cost: The cost associated with acquiring a new customer

Internet Marketing Dictionary

Complex Formulas
What it feels like trying to figure out Search Engine Marketing.

Searching for  Search Engine Marketing

I recently signed up for Google AdWords and started playing around with its campaign site. After twenty, or, thirty minutes, I started getting a splitting headache and through frustration, closed my Google Chrome browser and defiantly opened up Firefox.  Now to be fair, I had no business signing up for AdWords, since I can’t even spell S-E-M (SEM) but, I was determined to get a better understanding of what I could be missing.  Being a start-up and desperate for bootstrapping sales, it seemed only logical to investigate.

Google Sales to the Rescue, sort of

The very next day I received a call from a Google Sales Rep – Terry Dewey, who was incredibly helpful, and patient, in walking me through the site & giving me my very own S-E-M 101 Course. But, by the end of the call, there was one thing terribly obvious to both of us. If I couldn’t manage to spend $7500 a month on AdWords advertising, then there simply wasn’t any point in getting started.

WCT: Wholly Crap Through

At $7500 a month, with an average of 3% conversion rate, my customer acquisition cost was probably going to cost me more than I was going to make.

Reality Check and The Referral Engine Bibles

So needless to say, I’ve abandoned my jump into SEM and have returned to the teachings of Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check & John Jantsch’s The Referral Engine. If I understand correctly, the key to success is sharing with those who can help. So that’s the motivation behind the :AnotherSocialEconomy Reseller and Referrer programs. Another lesson learned, is that I have to make it real easy for those folks to pass the message along and that’s why we developed the :Widget and the :Bookmarklet.

The Ultimate Cost Per Action (CPA)

CPA offers are the truest form of performance marketing. Rather than basing payouts on bulk traffic which may or may not convert, cost per action refers to compensating affiliates/publishers for real sales, leads, and other conversion metrics. This is often the most empowering method for advertisers, as they are able to gain direct results from their advertising budget. The CPA model is a risk-free approach to advertising that usually targets niche specific publishers or clever affiliates.

Peter Hamilton

According to Rubicon Consulting & Online Communities and Their Impact on Business: Ignore at Your Peril, where they found 10% of the community members contribute 80% of the content. These Most Frequent Contributors (MFCs) are second to word of mouth when it comes to influencing others.

So for starters, here’s how our Widgets whip click-through and pay-per-click advertising for Influencers (MFCs).

  1. Prep work:
    1. Become an AnotherSocialEconomy Reseller
    2. Post an AnotherSocialEconomy Widget on your blog, or, web site. The widget can be customized to your site’s look and feel so it doesn’t distract your readers.
    3. Contact Retailers, suppliers, manufactuers, brands, distributors, and anyone else in position to close a sale – locally, or, online and have them register as AnotherSocialEconomy Retailers.
  2. Blog, review, rate, do whatever you do to contribute valuable content.
    1. Your readers can then fill in your site’s Widget to purchase whichever goods and/or services mentioned.
    2. AnotherSocialEconomy will then notify all registered Retailers within range of the Consumer’s location and ask them if they have the goods/services available for sale.
    3. Those Retailers with inventory on hand, then propose their goods to the Consumer via AnotherSocialEconomy.
    4. Once Consumers confirm, they can then proceed to the local Retailer and pick up their goods.

Bottom line

AnotherSocialEconomy is about connecting serious buyers with local retailers. So only those Consumers interested in buying, will click-through.  And only those Retailers in a position to close the sale, need to reply. There’s no conversion rates, or, customer acquisition costs to worry about. Retailers only pay when they close the sale.

But wait, there’s more …

And what about that kind Influencer? Since they Referred the request via their site’s Wdiget, they get to share in some of AnotherSocialEconomy’s proceeds.  And in this particular scenario, since they- as  a Reseller signed up the Retailer who made the sale, then they again, get to share in some of AnotherSocialEconomy’s proceeds. Now that’s some CPA, eh?

Thanks

I’d like to thank Michel Drouin for connecting the dots between click-through advertising and the value proposition of :AnotherSocialEconomy’s :Widget.

Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how this one works out.

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The Twouble with Twetailer

Golden Rule of Branding:

  1. Choose a name that is your URL
  2. Don’t choose anything that paints you in a corner. With the word “tweet” in it, it’s painted into a corner.

— Mark Suster, referring to TweetUp at 6:11 into This Week in Venture Capital #2 with Mark Suster.

In the beginning

There was something familiar about Twitter back in December 2008 when I posted My Five Ws of Twitter in less than 10 minutes (video included). It wasn’t necessarily the short messages – like text messaging (SMS), even though those were its roots. It wasn’t so much the chat-like short messages either. It was something I recognized as an IBM MQ Series feature call Message Persistence – basically meaning, the messages are saved on some hard disk on some server somewhere on the network. So what? So as opposed to email, text messages, or, chat messages that are 1) unless they’re spam, are sent to a select group of people, and 2) can be deleted, Twitter messages are potentially in the public domain, persisted (save to some disk) and searchable.

The original idea behind Twetailer was to expand on those persisted tweets, as if they were MQ Series persisted messages and use them as a poor-mans’ communication channel. And just like MQ Series with its ability to have operating system agnostic clients communicating to the MQ Series server, there were already a whack of Twitter client applications out there like TweetDeck, Twhirl, Seesmic, etc. That way Twetailer could focus on the transaction engine and let its users choose their favorite client app. We even had free text messaging (SMS), courtesy of Twitter.

Hence the name Twetailer, which is short for Twitter Retailer.

Sounds like a plan, eh?

But Dom Derrien was concerned about relying on Twitter for these persisted messages, so, we decided to persist our own. Still true to our Twitter inspiration, we built a transaction engine that runs in 140 characters, or, less. As a Consumer, your initial request looks like:

d twetailer wii console locale:1235 us range:25 mi expires:2010-12-23

and subsequent requests could look like:

d twetailer rent twilight dvd

since we already knew your previous preference for location and default the expiry date to one month in the future.

Oh, by the way, Dom was right! To date, Twitter does not persist searchable messages beyond a few days, at best!

Too cryptic

While everyone we yakked to about the concept Where Demand comes to meet Supply loved it, they either didn’t tweet, or, thought the messages were too cryptic.

How to paint yourself out of a corner

Twitter is still a force to be reckoned with. But so is email and so is the web and so is text messaging and so is Facebook and so is Google Talk and so is iChat and so is Android and so is iPhone and so is yada yada yada. Cryptic, shmyptic!!! Our  Twitter-inspired transaction engine has an open application programming interface (API) allowing us, or, you to build more client apps than ever before. Nonetheless, we have to heed the outside-in advice of  those we respect.  So we’re keeping http://twetailer.com as our project name but moving forward with http://AnotherSocialEconomy.com.

Thanks Jason, Mark & ThisWeekIn

A big thanks to Mark Suster, Jason Calacanis and the rest of the crew at ThisWeekIn for helping us paint our way out the corner. I’m pleased to say we have gone from the single Twitter Stream to multi-stream and from Twetailer to AnotherSocialEconomy.

Thoughts

Has anyone out there been faced with a similar situation? Did you stick with your ‘program”, or, re-positioned yourself?

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The Yin Yang of Techie Start Ups

yin yangIn Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin yang is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn… Yin yang are complementary opposites within a greater whole. Everything has both yin and yang aspects,.. constantly interacting, never existing in absolute stasis.
Yin and yang – Wikipedia

Background

We’ve reached our techie milestone. We have quality code running in the Google AppEngine clouds. We’ve validated our concept with as many people that will listen to us. We’re at the point now where we have to validate with the market. We need users. More specifically, we need Consumers and we need Retailers. We need marketing & we need public relations (PR).

Challenge

So while the real techie – Dom Derrien, can breath a little easier, the other – me, with my techie background, has to go out and market the crap out of Twetailer. But, I’m not really a marketing kind of guy. While I absolutely love demoing and presenting and evangelizing, I’m not particularly strong at finding the right people to get in front of. So, I need to find myself a marketing guru. But being an ultra-light start up (read “living of my wife and kids”), I need to find a marketing guru – preferably one shooting for the social networking sphere, who’s willing to drink the Kool-Aid. Fortunately, Marc Bienstock likes Kool-Aid.

Lesson Learned

Twetailer was conceived and originally targeted for techies like ourselves – cube dwellers. Which is fine, since we never planned on using the line “If only 1% of China…”. So demoing to techies was never a real problem, despite some minor usability issues. But in order to get to the next level, we had to demo to prospective partners, prospective CEOs, prospective Consumers and prospective Retailers. And the further away we got from the cube dwellers, the greater the usability issue became for those higher up in the org chart – tower dwellers. Thankfully, everyone got the true value of Twetailer’s service:  “Brokering Consumer Demand with local Retailers’ available Supply – via simple messages, for f(r)ee, or, Reverse Retailing”. But even our own accountant and lawyer turned on us with comments like “Can’t I just have one button to press? I’m not very comfortable with all this texting stuff. Hey, I have a great idea! How about an app for my Blackberry?”. Not bad for tower-dwellers, eh? 🙂

So now I think I understand. While I originally intended to service techie consumers, I needed non-techies to help me get that service to them. In other words, my techie solution had a non-techie dependency.

Time to Pivot

It pays to get out of the basement. Last April, I attended the Montreal venue for the Startup Lessons Learned Conference where among other gems, I was introduced to what Steve Blank calls Customer Development process and Eric Ries calls the The Pivot:

“Pivoting” is when you change a fundamental part of the business model. It can be as simple as recognizing that your product was priced incorrectly. It can be more complex if you find your target customer or users need to change or the feature set is wrong or you need to “repackage” a monolithic product into a family of products or you chose the wrong sales channel or your customer acquisition programs were ineffective.

Modified Business Model

Originally, the fee plan was to charge both Consumer & Retailer a transaction fee similar to that of Amazon Flexible Payments Service fees (about 3%). But after speaking to several people, it became clear we couldn’t build a sustainable business like that. The common thought was the best idea is to solve a real business problem and charge money for it. So we’re going to charge a monthly subscription fee for registered Retailers. And because Marc felt Twetailer was too generalized and people needed a sense of urgency to use it, we’ve also introduced a Reseller distribution channel with our first one being targeted towards golfers & golf courses. (Congrats to Marc for being our first Reseller!) And to address usability issues, we’re offering a Managed Service for those non-techie Retailers out there.

Modified Development Roadmap

As much as I didn’t want to go down this route until there was actual income to pay for it, I seem to be in a Catch 22: If we don’t build it, they won’t come. If they don’t come, then I can’t afford to build it. So we re-prioritized some things & built it – an Android app targeted for the Golfer (Consumer) wanting to find a local Golf Course (Retailer). And since Twetailer is vertical agnostic, we’re making the app open source so other’s out there may be encouraged to built their own vertical, or, reseller market using our open application programming interface (API). Oh and by the way,  for those of you like my good buddy Rick Boretsky who think only techies have Android mobile devices, I encourage you to take a look a the First quarter 2010 information from The NPD Group’s Mobile Phone Track which reveals a shift in the smartphone market, as Android OS edged out Apple’s OS for the number-two position behind RIM.

Golf Pivot Videos

Please take a look at our pivot trilogy (less than 10 minutes) and let me know your thoughts. The first is intended to address our target audience with the second identifying their pain and the third illustrating our solution (for non-techies and techies alike).

Reflection

What do you think? Am I setting a bad precedence? Am I clouding my inability to market/sell my start up by throwing more code, time & energy at the problem, as opposed to, finding/solving the root-cause? Or, do you think this is a step in the right direction?

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