I am working on another startup project and we are being entirely open about the process. I recently did some customer discovery and the video was awesome! So if you get time, please go check it out.
In the startup community, it appears to me that the metric of success is primarily focused on making money. This is not surprising as for most every businesses, this is the only value that matters. And you can break down the process into two conclusions.
a) Startup makes money = Success
b) Startup doesn’t make money = Failure
But I’ve come to focus a lot on a third option, a value that most people don’t think about, which is what I would call “Prestige”, and the concept is rather simple.
Create something with the goal of increasing your visibility in a particular group or scene. With hopes that by increasing your personal brand recognition, your prestige, you will have better opportunities in the future. This is where I feel I am lacking right now, in my community, or as Seth Godin would say my “Tribe”.
I need to increase my own personal visibility to generate the one thing that I desire right now more than anything else, opportunity. If I were more connected, with people that want to get stuff done, I could indeed make powerful things happen. But so far, Bend Oregon is not the bustling hub of entrepreneurial activity that one would hope, and is in fact far from it.
So lets put this into a real world scenario.
I’ve built a mobile app and I have to set the goal. Do I want to focus on Prestige or Profit? Well with profit I could specify a target sale amount of my app, say $.99 cents. And then just get an idea of the volume it would sell over the course of the next two-three years and grind away trying to create the value to sell the specified volume.
After the research I’ve done on the number of units one could potentially sell, it seems that it is a shot in the dark. But I think I could probably move about 250k thousand units based on current trends, then again I could just as easily move only 10k units.
My other option in trying to build out my community. Give the app away for free, and promote myself by saying something like
“Hey, connect with me on linkedin,twitter, or facebook. I’m looking to meet people who want to make amazing things happen!”
How many units could I move then? Well again, from some of the research I’ve done it looks like there is the potential for a 1000:1 ratio of free vs sold applications. That is, for every one app you sell, you could have given away 1000 applications for free.
What gave me this idea? It was when I was researching in-application advertising. I could give away my app away for free, but implement ads, hoping that enough traffic would be generated as to monetize the traffic from my app. But then I thought;
“Why couldn’t I buy out ads, to build out my community, in my own application?”
This goal totally seemS resonable, because I’ve been studying some of my rich friends. And even though they have a ton of cash, they never cash out, they still continue to work. You can even see this with people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and many others. So knowing that I still have about 35 years worth of work left to accomplish, I would rather be working with people and on projects that actually change things. That make both an impact but also a profit.
And currently, that is what my brain is chewing on.
Prestige or Profit? Prestige or Profit indeed…
As I write this, it is close to midnight, and this has been a common work hour for these last four months. I can’t believe that Agapage is finally here, that it is finally launching. A lot of work went into this endeavour and it seems surreal to sit here and watch as something you poured your heart into, has been brought to life.
There are a lot of people who made it happen, a lot of people who cared and suggested. Who steered and paved the way for Agapage’s completion. I am amazed and humbled that all these people believed in me.
If you are wondering what Agapage is, let me share.
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So I was sitting in Church back in February, when the Children’s minister came up on stage. She mentioned that the Church’s current 60 pager paging system (retailing for $3k) was no longer adequate. The church had grown and needed about 100 more pagers to meet its need. Unfortunately, the pagers cost about $90 a piece (totaling $9k).
Pagers are used to notify parents when their child is having an issue. It also helps the flow of the whole church service by finding parents easily.
For the rest of the service, my brain was in a trance. It started working on a solution, and that night I began coding the beginnings of it. I went to sleep wanting to think of a good name, and like clockwork, I awoke with the “a good name”. By the end of that week I had a semi-functional program (though it looked like crap), and thus Agapage* was born.
*Agapage is a combination of two words. Agape is the Greek word for unconditional love and page just means “to notify or make known”
So what does Agapage do?
Well, it allows the church or organization to have their own personal website. And at their site, the organization members will register for an account (Same sign up process as in most online services). Once their account is created, the user will add all their parent or guardian information (Image, First Name, Last Name , Cell Phone Number), and they will add all their children’s information (Image, First Name, Last Name). Once all the information is filled out, the user will only have to go back into the system for routine maintenance.
Here is where it gets interesting. The staff at the church can log in, and if their credentials are correct, can now SEARCH for a child, pull up their record, and click the PAGE button. It will send a txt message to ALL the Guardian’s cell phones attached to the child. As the parent, you could also attach grandma, grandpa, auntie or uncle, and it would PAGE everyone.
- No hardware loss, theft, or maintenance. Basically the Organization doesn’t have to buy batteries or charge them, or order pager replacements.
- Piggy backs onto existing infrastructure. Most churches have laptops and wireless, and according to SNL Kagan, a leading mobile research firm. the U.S.A will reach 100% market saturation by 2013. That is one cell phone for every man, woman, and child. This affirms the thought that most families will have at least, 1 cell phone.
- No risk to the organization
- Not limited by distance
- Custom txt messages can be sent so that the Guardian gets some idea of what exactly is going on
- Pictures can be uploaded by the members so when staff or volunteers use Agapage to search, they can actually see who they will be paging
Startup = $3000
Annual maintenance = ($200 +/- N%) batteries and replacement units
Growth = ($90 +/- N%) per additional unit as well as annual maintenance going up rapidly
Total = Anitoch’s projected cost in just under 4 years of existence > $10k
I was reading about a large church in the Detroit area, they grew from 1997-2005. At it’s height, the church attendance was over 4000 people. I speculate their paging system (600-800 pagers) would easily have cost them $50k over that 7 year period. Now the church is in decline because there is a mass exodus from the area as people leave in search of jobs. The church’s numbers are way way way down. With Agapage, instead of having the church’s money tied up in a large piece of infrastructure, they could just scale back their usage and pay less.
And it works in the other direction, seamlessly scaling as your Organization grows.
- My church needs it, so I know it will get used if only by one organization
- Resume / Portfolio weight
- Low startup cost and NO debt (If I wasn’t a programmer this would not be the case)
- Potential to show a proof of concept along with case study and prove/see if there actually is a NEED in the world
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So that is Agapage, and I hope anyone or organization that needs it, will see it’s value. The best thing is that I am saving people a lot of money in a recessionary environment, while also offering a superior product. I feel really good about that.