I launched the beta version of http://www.currencyexchangemap.com/ a few months ago. I call it the "Craigslist of currency exchange". it allows users to register, and from then on find one another to exchange both crypto- and fiat-currencies without any intermediaries.
I'm "inspired" by this recent thread - writing now to ask for opinion/advice.
The system needs marketing and further product development. I'm much more of a technical person than a business-minded one. I've heard of a lot of options from crowdfunding to just downright advertising. I'm not experienced on any of these as to what the options are, how they each work, what i'd end up with on each, etc.
I only spread the word among family/friends so far.
I'd appreciate the suggestions.
The only business plan i have now is getting this system on its feet without taking risks/ having to spend much time&money.
For more accuracy, I should rather describe my angle as "conservative as opposed to risk-taker", than "technical as opposed to business-minded". I have familiarity with marketing concepts (MBA + IT degrees), but I'm not familiar with the marketing tools out there. There are many of them. I worked on many projects, managed people/systems for many years, but all in corporates. Entrepreneurship is a different ballgame.
I developed this system as a pet project. The only money I spent so far is fee for the server running it on cloud right now. I don't mind spending certain amount, but then on what? I guess i'm looking to see what kind of light i'd be seeing at the end of each tunnel.
I'm considering advertising it next and observing the snowball effect as the next step. I don't think this is the best.
Unlike the other such apps, CurrencyExchangeMap is only facilitating the exchange, not being a part of it (AFAIS, it's the only one doing this).In mine, users log in and search for others, exchange messages, get together in a coffee shop and exchange. I'm planning on making money on advertising, also maybe a small subscription fee to give the user an add-free option. I was told that this doesn't require anything beyond a carefully-written user agreement statement. I only deployed a beta version. It currently isn't 'wired up' for making any money. I sure don't want to end up with any trouble out of this. Trading license is news to me.
As the business owner, you have to be the business person regardless of who you have to help you. If you don't understand at least the foundations of each of the six primary business skills, it is essential that you read some business books to at least know the vocabulary and basic principles so you can supervise your employees, even if they're doing the heavy lifting.
Don't feel badly, no business owner ever masters more than two of the six skills at most, but each needs to be at least somewhat familiar with the talents required. Otherwise you don't even know if you're filling the gaps. The six are marketing, sales, organization, people, efficiency, and leadership. It has nothing to do with whether you are technical or something else.
While the service sounds interesting to those who actually are looking to trade currency, there are some immediate questions before you advertise. I saw nothing on your web site to indicate you were a licensed FOREX trader. If you aren't, and you need to immediately stop your activities and become a licensed trader. You have specific regulated requirements to enable currency exchange, combat fraud, and maintain records.
As far as an education on marketing, that's going to be a challenge to deliver in a forum like this. Marketing itself is broken into 8 divisions. Marketing isn't just advertising to get customers. That's only a tiny aspect. Broadly marketing should define your product development, and your marketing strategy should precede any product/service you develop for consumption. It will determine who your audience is, what your value proposition is, test your assumptions, and ensure that you are different enough that customers would actually choose you.
Business doesn't work like "Field of Dreams." When you don't start with strategy, it's a dramatically larger risk to build something and hope you can find customers for it.
I applaud your ambition, but recommend you pause long enough to really test each of your assumptions before you spend another nickel moving your product forward.
When you ask what you'd get out of marketing, you get what you put into the effort. If you follow best practices for contemporary marketing principles, you enter a system that informs you as much as it puts information out. There are a handful of different marketing theories, and you can choose one that suits you, but stick to just one. Don't play mix-n-match.
Here's a loose description of how product development should occur. It doesn't say "marketing" specifically, but it does focus on testing assumptions and analyzing research. Those are essential elements to keep your business out of trouble, building something you can't sell easily.
If you don't feel confident, you could always hire a marketing consultant who can lead you through all the validation and strategy steps. They will teach you as much of the process as you want to learn. The idea is that the time and money you spend up front saves you from an unanticipated series of losses in the future. Sometimes the answer is that the product is great, but requires you to do things that you're not interested in doing. Sometimes the answer is that the idea needs to go in a different direction than you intended, but could still make money. Sometimes the answer is that you can't make money with the idea. And almost never is the answer that your idea was perfect from the start.
If you bring together buyers and sellers of crypto without getting involved in the transaction, you may still need to comply with regulations depending on the country you are in and these regulations are more to do with facilitating AML (Anti Money Laundering)
Hi Ayse, congratulations on your new venture. Before getting into a long drawn out answer that showcases my marketing and business strategy expertise, I think it best to first focus on what is important to you? What is your overarching company goal for this year? Let's start there. Then also please share details on what you'd like to achieve throughout the year in terms of milestones that will help you reach that overarching goal, (or at the very least put you much closer to it). Sound good?
Ayse, I love your idea, reminds me of localbitcoins.com
Just a word of advice, first, make sure you understand the legal implications as trading currencies is a tricky business. You might be fine to operate in Canada if you are not touching the traded money but there are jurisdictions with blurry regulations. For example there are certain things that craigslist does not allow advertising for and I think currency might be one of them.
Apart from that, you are setting up a marketplace, which is very hard to pull off. There is always the chicken and egg problem. Best I can think of is to create a facebook page, find a very small geo niche that you think might be a good place to start, and run some facebook ads limitted to that area. This way you can also take control of legal situation because the region is small.
Also if you are passionate about the industry and like to build innovative solutions, I am running a crypto startup with exchange and wallet products focused on emerging markets. Feel free to contact me.
Hey - what direction are looking to take the business? Are you seeking Venture Capital investment and is your business operating in a non-profit or profit environment? I'm interested in your business model. Looks a great concept :)