So what criteria do you go for? I’ve been racking my brain over the last 24 hours (and I forgot my notebook which didn’t help).Going back to the eHarmony way of doing things. There’s a ton of spade work already done over many years before they even got to doing any software. Remember the founder of eHarmony, Neil Clarke Warren, was a marriage counsellor many years previous.I keep going back to eHarmony as it’s the one system I’ve read about time and time again when it came to analytics and data mining. It uses 261 bits of information and refines that in to its 29 core criteria working on a like for like match basically.So I’m looking for 5000 business partners/CEO’s/entrepreneurs who are will to answer a lot of questions at the start. Good research if nothing else.5000 * 261 = 1,305,000 bits of information.Meyers Briggs profiles… data, it’s all there. Just need to do something with it.
So much for the quiet long weekend. I got into a fairly long Twitter conversation with Nichola Bates (@growsalesonline), Chris McCabe (@maxer08), Jackie McGonigle (@whatsonni), Lyra McKee (@LyraMcKee) and Mary McKenna (@MMaryMcKenna) about something that really makes me tick… data!Well I was looking at the data angle of it I’m pretty sure the rest were looking from another angle. It was triggered by a blog post that Mary did a few days ago about having two pros of having two heads at the helm of the business (you can read it here). The question then was raised, how do you find the perfect match of a business partner?There are some sites out there like LinkedIn and Collab.ie which do provide a start but nothing that could actually predict anything. The key to all of this are two simple things: rules and knowledge.eHarmony works in the same way. The questionnaire when you sign up is the key bit, it’s the data gathering that figures who you are and what you are prepared to put up with. The next key is figuring out what you are actually looking for.The following is an actual advert (why they listed on Gumtree I’ll never know but there you are, each to their own and all that).We are an angling retailer based in manchester. We are a new breed of retailer, with a great USP. We have a vision for future growth and are now looking to grow the business.We are looking for a partner/Investor/Mentor. Preferably someone who has an interest in angling. The ideal person is someone who would like to take an hands on approach. Experience in the retail trade and IT.We have been trading since June 2009, much work has already been done.We have a website already up and running, ecommerce site, 200+ Customers.Business name, brand name and trademarks have already been registered with IPO.This is a great opportunity for the right person.Ingoing is 10K.Quick return is predicted and all targets are seen as highly achievable.So the jump out points:
- Hands on investor in sales/IT
- Min invest of 10K
- Likes angling (call it active interest in the investment)
- Based in North West of England
- Early stage startup
- Retail experience
You could network your brains out for six months getting to every event you could, shaking loads of hands, doing lots of meetings and it could all come to nothing. Or you could go the eHarmony way plough all your wants and needs into the system and let the site whittle the list of eligible partners down for you. That filters the wheat from the chaff. Then it’s a case of meeting them all (pink carnation and a newspaper job) and doing the rest from there.Obviously a system like this is only as good as the data it has from potential plenty-of-fish-in-the-sea business partners.Weekends off, who needs them?
I suppose everyone has “a book”, it might be a journal or a word document. It’s the place where everything goes into. For me I have an A4 sketch book, it’s coffee stained and a bit bashed around the edges, not great to look at it but it contains every note about Datasentiment’s development from day 1 (and the previous four months from that). I started this book during unemployment, it was a horrible time as well. On the positive side this was the time I started meeting likeminded people in the startup arena, ones who I will keep in contact with wherever I am on the planet.
It’s got screen shots, market research, quotes, everything that got planned and binned, everything that got planned and implemented. Rough business plans, projections, customer segmentation, buying patterns, phone numbers, interested customers. It’s got SQL statements, recency/frequency/value calculations…. I’m sure you get the idea.
Most things I’ve been involved with never start at the computer, it starts with pen and paper. It forces me to start with a bunch of notes and ideas and refine them into something usable that I can produce. Every month I revisit the black book (today is my scheduled day) and I’ll go over notes from 12 months ago and see if there’s anything I’ve missed. Oddly enough things that I’ve put on the back burner (but are in the book) are now starting to emerge into something usable again. It didn’t go in the direction I’d originally planned but it’s good to see it’s not wasted. This book makes sure I don’t forget.
Bass Friday seems to be getting popular on Twitter (#bassfriday), so for the both of you I thought I’d list them here instead. One list of links saves having to trawl through stuff. You can click on the titles if you have Spotify.Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots“Ready” Freddie Washington, just got to love him really.Suzanne Vega – Blood Makes NoiseOff 99.9F degrees, Bruce Thomas providing a line that does wonders while Suzanne sings through a mega phone.Level 42 – Coup D’Etat – Backwards Mix b-sideCould have picked one of thousands but picked this one. The version on the World Machine album has the full lyrics but just never quite gets there. This version which ended up as a B-side to the 12″ of Something About You provides a lot more tension.Propaganda – DuelOkay, first things first. It’s not a synth bassline, it’s a real bassline. A Wal to be precise…. tuned down as the song is in Eb.Primus – Jerry Was A Race Car DriverTake the bassline from Elephant Talk by King Crimson and use a six string fretless instead of a Chapman Stick…. Les Claypool did publicly nod that he loved Tony Levin’s tone on the Stick but didn’t want to spend the time learning it.The Who – My Generation – Artificial Stereo VersionJohn Entwhistle. Need I say more?Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – New York, New YorkDoug Wimbish – journeyman bassist and one of the nicest blokes I’ve ever met.Marcus Miller – Teen TownThe old Weather Report tune (Jaco Pastorius’ trademark lick) but slapped instead. Everything says it shouldn’t work as it’s pure sacrilege but it actually works really well. There is a live video on YouTube as well.Béla Fleck – Blu-BopJazz and Bluegrass is an odd combo but Bela likes to break boundries. So the Wooten brothers, Victor and ahem Futureman rip the rulebook and did for several albums later.Sheryl Crow – Everyday Is A Winding RoadThis is actually a sparse tune but that bass is really heavy in the mix. I’ve played this live quite a few times with folk over the years, all good fun.If you want the whole Spotify playlist you can click here.
Warning: this post may not go down well with some of my #JFDI cohorts…. 🙂 It’s been a funny old week.
Too much pen to paper, not enough on the early morning juice (I missed every 5am alarm apart from today, which shouldn’t be a problem but it seems that some of my Twitter followers set their alarms by my wake up call) and a lot going on elsewhere.
One thing that kept coming up in conversation was a Groupon type site for Datasentiment as part of the product offering. A nice idea and actually very easy to copy and inititally an easy instant revenue generator. Then this morning I stopped because of two reasons. 1. I’ve already got four products that need my attention. 2. I’d pee off retailers in the long run.
First things first Datasentiment exists to promote customer loyalty to the retailer. Groupon doesn’t do that in reality. It promotes new customer generation and at the cost to the retailer. I appreciate at this present time you need sweetners to get customers through the door but for some the economics just don’t work out.
Okay, here’s a real example (I did some sums). The dance studio in New York has a deal on for 5 classes for for $39, reduced from $150. A saving of $111. Not bad at all. So far (at time of writing) 375 people have signed up for the offer which is great. I’m sure it would have taken some doing to generate $56,250 of revenue. The offer is on though so that’s now slashed down to $14,625 that’s been generated. For the customer it’s all well and good. Pay the money, print the voucher and boogie x 5 can ensue. For the retailer…. time to count the cost.
Firstly the fee to Groupon. Depending on where you read it’s 30% or 50%. For this exercise let’s go for the former. So 30% is $4387.50 leaving the retailer $10237.50, or $27.30 per customer. For the pedants in the audience (me mainly) you could go as far as saying that it costs $5.46 per customer per session. With this sort of deal there’s actually a good chance of retaining the customer, I think it’s a good fit. But these are few and far between. There are variables we don’t know, the cost of acquring the customer and then the cost of the product to the customer I’m sure would come to more than $5.46 per session.
I would also wager that the retailer is making no real profit, nor really gaining a new customer. The majority of users to Groupon aren’t brand loyal, they’re coupon loyal constantly on the hunt for a good deal. Fair enough, can’t complain with that.
This level of deep discount creates a dangerous starting point for a relationship with a customer though. There’s a ton of competitors now and I wondered about a more local version but I’d suffer the same problem. So I’m more bothered about maintaining long term value for customer and retailer, that’s what I’m about.
So the question remains, what about Groupon. Aggressive mapping out of territories, acquisitions and the like. A huge valuation and an awful lot of staff. Is it a case of a very bright shining star that will burn out brightly? Keeping in mind other high profile sites like Yelp are now planning the same.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the weekend (a dangerous move according to some near and dear to me). Though I’ve been thinking beyond anything online and more into the retail realm.
Now I walk through Derry everyday and look at the amount of commercial property that lies empty. I’m not the only one either, Mark Nagurski did an excellent post on the very same subject. I’m looking from another angle.Commercial landlords desperately and urgently need to rethink their strategies on how they lease out their property. The idea right now is not to give big long leases but attractive short ones. Micro shops and pop up shops are the perfect way to occupy empty space. The idea of pop up shops aren’t new but if you want to have a go at starting up in retail now is a good time to start planning for the Christmas, ahem, rush.If I were a landlord I’d rather have a place occupied for a shorter period of time than lying empty. So how about shorter lease times.6 months?3 months?2 months?4 weeks?1 week?2 days?1 day?All doable in my eyes.With a good dollop of marketing (announce the sale to your user base on Facebook, Twitter and uVoucher to increase awareness). Nothing beats being out on the street and mixing with potential customers.1. Pick something you can sellThe last thing you want is stock at the end of the sale so you want to pick items that you’ve got a good chance of shifting. Sounds simple but I’ve seen this sink some companies over the years.2. Creative thinking on the rent.Easier with some landlords than others I’m sure (I’ve never tried). Can you negotiate for free? Offer a percentage of the revenue you make in your venture. Free free free, whatever you can get for the least amount. And only have the premises for the time you really need it. November through to December 24th, don’t forget an online presence if you can (e-commerce would be better but only if you can really complete the orders).3. Your brand is everythingJust because it’s a short lease shop doesn’t mean that your brand should suffer. Without going mad with the money try and get some creative design thing going. You can find some really cheap printing deals (or even Vistaprint for the ubercheap) to get flyers and all that stuff done.4. Know your costsRent and staff are the big numbers. The minimum wage is rising to £5.93 (£237.20 a week) in October this year. Goes without saying really but it’s so easy to end up running at a loss. A better strategy would be not to pay anyone and run it yourself.There’s a large amount of #JFDI in there I know and it will require some creative thinking from a few parties. At the end of the day it’s all attainable we just need some creative minds to embrace it. Who’s first?