180 Days to Startup #1
With a mission to share the learning of top executives from industry/corporate, here we at Entrepreneur Bus bring you a Startup Journey of Building a Valuable solution by Will Chen. Let’s walk through his journey below, penned by himself:
There is always that hope in me to start my own business. At the age of 19, I quit university to start a life insurance career. I closed one deal and made a whopping $600 something dollars in 1.5 years. The only reason I got that deal is that my parents felt bad for me and bought a policy. After racking up thousands of dollars in credit card debt and got into 2 car accidents from being on the road, I finally realized that business was not for me and gone back to finish my degree.
I went back down the path of trying to be an entrepreneur at the age of 27. I had an idea to start a platform allowing people to list their parking spots up for rental/buy/sell. The idea attracted a developer to start working on a minimum viable product. It took nearly a year to develop the MVP and just before launch, we realized that it would cost $10k to deploy the app on the platform we used. We weren’t able to justify the cost as a few highly similar competitors already launched by that time with a significantly better feature. We ended up having to kill the project and gone our separate ways.
I continued exploring other ideas for the startup. I tried GPS-based wearable baby clothing, digital artwork shopping site, wedding-related vendor quoting platform, and even livestock feed import. Obviously, none of them went anywhere.
And… Here I am again, starting another startup project. This time, I decided to do something a little different. I want to document my entire journey of founding this venture and share my story whether it succeeds or not.
As for background information, the startup project I am working on is called nodis.io(we are still in prototype stage). It is a social media marketing platform that aims at helping local retailers to interact with local communities. As a marketer myself, I find it to be a constant struggle to figure out ways to engage with end-user customers. Research showed that it is even more difficult for the startup & smaller businesses with a limited marketing budget and online presence.
Our platform allows businesses to post Challenges for the community to participate. Participants are rewarded with tokens, which can be used to purchase product/service vouchers on our website. The goal is to create higher exposure, more engagements, and more leads for the local retail businesses. As an illustration of how we are looking to achieve that, you can see below for a glimpse of our Challenge system and how businesses can interact with the local users.
nodis.io is built heavily on our research and the market needs. The difficulties that local retailers are facing are serious. They are often pressured by major corporations such as Wal-Mart or Amazon. We aim at creating a service that will give them a better fighting chance through incremental exposure.
As I mentioned earlier, I am looking to document my journey to this new venture. Below is a list of my planned topics in the series:
- The changing behaviour of consumers and the marketing difficulties faced by small local retailers — the research that helped me to set a foundation for the development
- My personal experience in dealing with small business marketing — the reason for my passion in this project
- What can blockchain do for marketing? — my learning about the technology and why we chose it to be a critical part of my solution (no, we didn’t pick blockchain because of the hype)
- Creating a valuable service without worrying about the value of cryptocurrency itself — the discovery to offer a good product with a valuable service that will actually solve a viable problem (cryptocurrency is a part of our means to the end rather “the” end)
- My attempt (and failure) when trying to explain the blockchain project to My wife — my path to constantly striving for a simpler message that everyone can understand
- The journey to get everyone to work towards the same goal — finding out the right motivation for the team was not an easy task, especially when no one is getting paid and we all have our own busy lives
- Equity incentive for startup team — Everyone on teamwork on this project with the hope to be an entrepreneur one day so having the right equity structure is absolutely critical
- The excitement of small budget marketing plan — finding the right marketing strategy for our project in both the funding and product launch stage
- Validating the market with an actual product (sort of) — actually going door-to-door with local retail businesses to demo the MVP (minimum viable product).
- Evaluation of validation result and customer feedback — taking the MVP to the next level with research result and refine the product roadmap accordingly
- Funding the final product and future development — documenting the initial token sale and the learning from going through the process
This is a series write-up by Will Chen, you can read 2nd chapter of this series here. Meanwhile, you can visit nodis.io to see what they have built so far. Keep in mind that this just a prototype so the functionality is limited and there are probably lots of bugs. You can comment your feedback regarding this write-up or his startup product in the comment section.