Business model

Transactional, recurring revenue w/ no up front costs & same day implementation. What's the catch?

Chicke Fitzgerald

April 4th, 2016

I have a unique product that has no competition.   It is a utility that is needed by most companies, venues and events.  It is easy to implement (minutes or hours, not days, weeks or months) and it provides a quarterly "make money while you sleep" opportunity for our enterprise clients and their customers, as well as a contribution to their charity of choice annually based on activity.  

We have not been as successful with this model as I would have hoped.  The product is solid and has been in the market for nearly a year, but I do not have a dedicated sales team yet, as I haven't wanted to raise money and have been attempting to fund from revenues.

Do you think that customers are skeptical that this model is too good to be true?  

Niels van der Linden

April 4th, 2016

Hello Chiche,

How do you define 'not as successful as you would have hoped'? Did you expect a 100 sales and only managed to realize 20?

Also, the customers who showed interest, but you weren't able to close, did you ask them for feedback?

What is your experience with the customer you did deploy with? Did they continue to use your service?

Thomas Petersen International Trouble Maker

April 4th, 2016

it's hard to say before we can have a look at what exactly your product is and how your are charging them.

Sometimes the issue is that you are charging them for things they don't find valuable and isn't charging them for things they would pay for.

But more info is needed to be helpful here.

Ken Anderson Director, Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development, Delaware Economic Development Office

April 4th, 2016

Firstly, there is nothing new under the sun and you probably have 20 compeititors at various stages with this or a similar product. But just say you are right, validating this product at the early stage is a key strategy. Can you get traction as evidenced by customers who are willing to pay? How big is the market? What is your total available market within that bigger marketplace?That is key. I love the fact that you are funding operations by revenues. You should continue to do that as long as you can. You will come to a point where your continued validation of the product, will force changes that should grow and expand your customer base. At some point you will reach a metric where external financing will be an appropriate next step. This could be a longer term process than you might have expected. Focus on customers, channel partners, validation strategies....therein is the key to whether there is a sustainable, profitable business in the making.

Michael Hunter Therasoft Online

April 4th, 2016

I would think that being one of the top players in your industry for the last 20 years should count for something. I've done a couple of side ventures here and there that weren't directly tied to my field or scope of practice, but the connections I've made over the years were substantial enough that when people heard what I was doing they were happy to be a part of it, because they knew me and know what I'm capable of. When what I did for them was successful, they did most of the selling for me (both because they like me and because what I had done for them made them money).

Who are the people you know that would be happy to take a risk with you because they know you? It sounds like (from what I've read so far) that you're talking about a product for people who already have a successful business model. However likely your product is to generate additional revenue, changing a successful formula always carries with it some degree of risk and inconvenience, which most business owners are going to be sensitive to, especially if there's still a lot of growth potential out there for them that requires constant attention. I've certainly fielded my fair share of phone calls every week from people wanting to give me or sell me something that will "make me money". 

"Everyone we speak to is enthusiastic but they have a full plate for their IT teams and don't really believe how easy it is to implement." 

This really sounds like the crux of the matter. What could you do on your end that might address this for users (aside from simply trying to "convince" them that it's easy)? Maybe there's a creative opportunity here to find a way to address this for your customers so that they're more likely to onboard.

Chicke Fitzgerald

April 4th, 2016

Thomas Petersen the product is very simple.  You can look at it on getmytravelwidget dot com backslash adele.  This is the event version.  We know the date of the event and we know the location of the event, so it is truly single click booking of a hotel for an event.  We also have integrated driving directions and optional car rental and air booking to an event, a venue or to a company.  

Think of us as a VISIT US page, instead of having just a static CONTACT US page.

Chicke Fitzgerald

April 4th, 2016

Ken Anderson, since I advise the investment community on this industry and I've written 4 books on global travel distribution, I am not your average entrepreneur. 

When I say that I am the only one that offers self-service venue and event based trip planning widgets that can be implemented the same day, I know it to be true.  Now there are clearly others that can do trip widgets, but all booking engines in my industry are city center and airport centric, so they don't help you get precisely where you need to be.  It is a major flaw, but one that has existed since technology invaded our industry in the late 1970s. 

The beauty of our product is that no one has to pay for it.  We are compensated based on booking activity for travel that is already taking place already to the venues, events and companies that embed our product.  

And Ken, thank you for the encouragement to keep funding from revenues.  I am also the co-author of a book called Bootstrap Business, which I co-authored with Tom Hopkins, Jack Canfield and John Christensen.  That book outlines my learning from my first tech venture, where I raised $7m, $1m of which was my own money, subsequently having the control wrested from me and decisions made that thwarted that venture's ultimate success.  

This time I'm moving more slowly and definitely asking for insights from others along the way!!     

Chicke Fitzgerald

April 5th, 2016

Shel - in this particular situation, my client's customers are funeral homes.  There is a small window of opportunity for the use of my product, between the moment that the obituary (which is "trip-enabled") is posted and the day of the funeral, so if the funeral home director doesn't tell the family that it is there and why they should direct friends and families there, then the alternative is that they get dozens of phone calls asking where the funeral is and if they are from out of town, where they should stay.  

We are going to look for clients with a broader window of opportunity and where the interaction with our capability is more natural and automatic, such as the "do you want fries with that" approach after registration for an event or purchase of a ticket to an event.

I am also a radio show host and have a membership oriented group and I will tell you that engagement is getting tougher and tougher to achieve, even with a really strong mailing list.  We are all on overload.   So we have to be able to break through the clutter.  That's the Holy Grail.

Kaustubh Prasad

April 4th, 2016

That's a tough one. Honestly, if your product is actually unique and has NO competition, that in itself is a huge achievement. On top of that, you say it is easy to implement and provides a fantastic money making opportunity for your clients. All these statements put together sound too good to be true. 

Having said that, you know your product best, and all of the above statements could possibly be true. And therein may lie the problem of being so confident about your product and its magic that you fail to see it from the perspective of a customer who has never experienced it. Sometimes people talk about the greatness of their product so much that you don't even feel like trying it. I don't know if that is the case with what you are doing.

Shel Horowitz I help organizations thrive by building social transformation into your products, your services, and your marketing

April 5th, 2016

Uh-huh. I trust your pitch is on the order of "free up hours of precious staff time you've been spending on funeral attendee travel logistics"

BTW, if you ever need a radio guest who can talk articulately about how business can thrive by developing and marketing products and services that turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance, drop me a private note.

Chicke Fitzgerald

April 4th, 2016

Michael Hunter, thanks so much for your input.  I do have many connections in my industry, but the market for this new product is actually outside of the industry.  The point is that travel has always been disconnected from the catalyst for travel, so we're moving the offer closer to the point where the person realizes that they will need to travel.  So I am having to forge new relationships outside my industry to get this done.

Good point on the tech issue being the main one.  I think we will get over this quickly by getting more pilot accounts in various fields to demonstrate (and give us written referrals) how easy it is to implement.

The good news is that I am a relentless entrepreneur that will not give up, so it is just a matter of getting sound advice on the pricing front and getting the tech team to do whatever they can to remove the IT implementation barrier.   

I am blessed to have found tech partners that are going to invest in getting the next iteration of the product built, which will be the "AddThis" and "ShareThis" of travel - easy to download the widgets and plug-ins on a self-serve basis.