Building a Company: Picking a Path

This is the first entry in what will hopefully be a long and successful effort to help people connect with each other through shared experiences and story telling. 

My most recent steps toward this goal have been taken as part of the Founder Institute curriculum in Hong Kong.  Each week, the program requires participants to focus on a different objective in furtherance of launching their respective start-up.

Efforts this past week have concentrated on considering alternative revenue models. The goal is to create a business that better serves users’ needs (not just making a nifty product). So, economic self-sufficiency is a key objective.

The essential vision I have is an EBook platform that empowers people to tell their own stories.  That is, give parents the tools to animate – in their own words – the story telling experience for their children, while allowing those children to access that personalized narrative – turning the pages of an ebook – on their own time and at their own pace.

For parents to understand the product, its ease of use (both for parents creating stories, and children accessing them) and ultimately the product’s value, I believe parents will need to use the product before they actually buy it. This context lends itself in certain aspects to a “freemium” approach to revenue, where users would get the product with basic functionality for free and – if / when they are sold on its value – elect to pay for the fully functioning version. There are certain risks to be closely managed with this approach – e.g., allowing sufficient functionality in the initial version to demonstrate its usefulness without giving so much away that users feel no need to pay.

There undoubtedly will be iterations and pivots in the model as we move from concept design to product development and (hopefully) eventual deployment.