A Final Word

This is my final post for my entrepreneurial development project, and I have learned quite a bit throughout the process. Although I probably won’t be on next year’s Forbes Top 100, I learned what it takes to start an idea. One of the most important lessons I learned was that it is okay to fail. That it is actually a positive thing.

I also learned a great deal from the Entrepreneurial Spotlights each week. It is interesting to see how some very normal people (and some not so normal) were able to come up with a successful product from just a small idea. The ones that stuck with me the most were the creators of Netflix, the entrepreneur of Gawker, and the innovators behind Birchbox.

Through all the lessons and exercises in this class, I feel prepared going into my final presentation. I may get ripped apart by the judges, but if I learned anything this class, constructive criticism is the best way to eventually succeed.

Going Into The Shark Tank

I am at my final stages of my entrepreneurial development project. Here is a recap of what I’ve worked on this semester:

• I came up with my idea and determined my purpose. I saw a problem, and came up with a way to fix it.

• I determined my sneezers and my hive. I found stats on freelancers and narrowed down my target audience.

• I highlighted my competition, namely Elance and hitRECord, and determined how I would be different.

• I determined the name of my product: Joint.

• I evaluated my values and came up with a minimally viable product (MVP).

• I brainstormed tag lines for my product.

• I thought about how I would fund Joint and how I could make a profit from it.

• I reevaluated my audience and determined a more solid market.

• I pinpointed my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

After much thought and going through all of those steps to solidify my product, I still have some inhibitions. All I need to do is design a great pitch to wow the judges. Nervousness and inhibitions aside, I feel confident enough with my product that I am ready to enter the Shark Tank

Threats

My biggest threat is definitely my competitor Elance. Although we are slightly different, Elance is already a well-established company that succeeds greatly. The silver lining is that Elance probably doesn’t have a huge following, as it is a job-finding site, and once people find a job, they might not go back right away. Until maybe their freelancing gig is up.

This website encourages the consideration of consumer purchasing tendencies, and that is something that worries me a bit. Although I would be offering upgrades for very little money, I worry that my consumers will not be willing to pay money on the service. Because much of my market is younger people, just out of college, they probably don’t have a huge yearly salary and wouldn’t want to add an extra charge.

I must also consider the same issue that Elance probably has, and that is creating a large following. Because Joint is a type of match-making service, would people use the product again once they have found a match? My vision is that people use Joint for short-term projects and will go back to the service once they are finished. They can also use it to find people if, along the way, they feel they need to use another talent with their project.

Opportunity

My main opportunity with Joint is to create a product that people can use with ease and efficiency. I have the opportunity to open up a platform for people that they will love and use. I have the opportunity to bypass what Elance offers and create a product that people will more likely use.

According to this article, most successful business are developed from seeing an opportunity. My opportunity is a swift product my identified market will use more than any other product. I have the opportunity to create a better product, and most of all, I have the opportunity to succeed.

Finally, I have the opportunity to make money from my product. Once people are using it and enjoying it, they will want to purchase the extra features. The more people are using my product, the more they will click on the ads, leading me to a profit.

As this article states, I need to consider my market and a particular growth in my market. People who freelance and take on creative projects take up a large part of our market, especially those in their early twenties. My market continues to grow, and Joint is a place where those people can go and feel fulfilled.

Problem ——-> Solution

The first step in coming up with my idea for Joint was identifying a problem. Something that we didn’t have or didn’t work very well. Something that people want and need to make life better and easier. I found that problem when I had it myself.

I’ve already discussed my issue with finding a web developer, but I know of others who had the same problem. My friend living in Columbus wanted to create a short film, but he needed a writer and an editor to assist him. He didn’t know how to go about doing that other than texting all of his colleagues and posting a message on Facebook and Twitter. He eventually found some people, but it took quite a bit of time.

With Joint, you wouldn’t have to wait all that time. You would be able to create a profile, simple and easy. You would be able to filter your preferences, simple and easy. You would be able to select a location and swipe through people who meet your preferences, and reach out to someone who you would work with. That whole process can happen within an hour.

Like with Tinder, you don’t have to go through the trouble of reaching out to people on Facebook or meeting them in person until you find someone you like, Joint makes it easy to find someone quickly, so you can begin your project with no further ado.

My Weaknesses

In addition to my strengths, I also have a number of weaknesses when it comes to this development project. The biggest weakness, I feel, is the lack of understanding I have with advertising revenue. I’m not sure exactly how to go about placing ads on the site, and I don’t know how it will help to fund the project either. I know of Google AdSense and a few others, but I am not sure how exactly they will work with Joint.

I’m also still a bit unsure of what to include in the Freemium option. And also, will people want to pay for that option? Especially if my users are mostly in their early twenties and not making very much money, how likely are they to spend additional money on Joint?

I am also a little tentative about how I would get the word out about Joint. I know I need to somehow reach my sneezers first, but I am unaware of how quickly people would begin using Joint, clicking on ads, and buying the upgrade, bring in revenue for Joint. I know I will need to market my product, but I am still working out those details.

My Strengths

We did an exercise in class during which we discussed our strengths and weaknesses with our product. I definitely think one of my biggest strengths in developing Joint is my ability to relate to my audience. Although I am not a freelancer, I work on many projects with which I sometimes wish I had someone to collaborate. For example, at the beginning of this year, I needed someone to help develop a website for my student organization. It was extremely difficult to find someone with the right credentials, the willingness and the time allowance to take on a such a project.

The two people I did find ended up bailing on me, and I wish I had some sort of forum to discuss the project and recruit people to help. I know there are many others like me who are having the same problem. Another strength is my knowledge of social media and how people use it. I know what it takes to make a good, informational profile, and I know what people around my age like when it comes to efficient websites.

The need for efficiency is another strength I have. I have identified that this is what people want most with their websites and social networks, and I have sought to create a product that is quick, efficient, and easy to use.

A Slight Change

I know, this is late in the game, but as Joint is come to fruition, I decided to reevaluate my audience. I feel that my product will more likely benefit very young workers, especially those right out of college who are looking for like-minded people to collaborate with, not necessarily people looking for a job at a company. Because that position is something I can relate to, I feel that people like me would be more likely to use a product like Joint. Especially in this technological era, in which people in their early twenties are extremely apt to use social media and networking sites.

I also think that specifying my sneezers in this way will further separate me from what Elance does. Whereas Elance extends a hand to both freelancers and companies, Joint will offer an easier platform for people to meet in order to work on building a website or filming a video. It will be less of a hiring site, and more of a social networking site with a specific purpose.

That being said, the hive will extend out to older or younger people wishing to collaborate. For example, college students working on a project, or seasoned professionals. My sneezers will be the very specific 22-25-year-old working in communication who is looking for others to help with a project.

Money, Money, Money

It’s about time I begin discussing the funding for Joint. When I first launch my product, I will need some funding right away to hire staff and get people interested. It may be beneficial to begin with a crowdfunding site such as GoFundMe or Kickstarter. I won’t need to raise a ton of money, but just enough to get my idea off the ground.

Once I actually have a product, my main source of revenue will be advertising. I may begin using Google AdSense to turn a bit of quick profit. It would be easy to set up, free, and the ads with be catered to my audience.

Advertising cannot be the only way to make money, though. I feel that Joint can work well with a freemium model. In other words, it would be free for users to apply its simplest features. Users will be able to create a profile, select and filter skills, and communicate with other users. The premium features, however, will allow users to choose more specific filters, search a specific user or company, and create a more extensive profile.

The premium upgrade will only be a small cost each month, to give users incentive to purchase it. I have yet to determine an exact price and method of payment.

Personal Website Recap

I just wanted to write a brief posting describing my experience building the personal website. It definitely wasn’t an easy task, and it was very time-consuming, but that could have been expected. I am pretty pleased with the results, as I learned quite a bit in the process, and I think it was a huge improvement from the website I built last year.

After going through the Codecademy lessons, I felt more comfortable and I new about a greater variety of features I could put on the site. I was able to produce a cleaner version with a code that wasn’t as messy and easier to read.

When I began the process of designing my website, I drew inspiration from a blog called Triple Max Tons. I’m a big fan of minimalistic websites that are clean and have attractive typography. I also looked at Awwwards‘ list of best clean websites to get design ideas. My website, of course, was nothing like those, but its simplicity is what I was going for.

My ultimate goal is to have a clean, impressive personal website by the end of the year. I would like an outlet  to post my portfolio, experience and a way to contact me. I think it reflects well upon future employers if I have my own website that boasts my personal brand. I credit this class for helping me get started with that goal!