Sweat For A Cause
Class: 2013 Winter Accelerator
Sweat For A Cause is a web startup that is taking the concept of fitness-driven fundraisers online
This post is specific to my business. I wanted to write about a great discussion I had with my mentors - David Parker and Steve Ives. I'm lucky that my mentoring team consists of two people that are perfectly suited to guide me and my startup. David brings in years of consumer web experience while Steve has a led local nonprofits (mostly YMCAs) for most of his career. I could tell that their experienced braincells were working in overdrive as we started talking about different revenue/pricing models for Sweat For A Cause(SFAC). Below is a summary of our discussion -
- Divide "customers" into small and large nonprofits
- Segregate individuals into "athletes" and "donors"
In order to cater to nonprofits of all sizes, consider having two pricing options for nonprofits to choose from -
- Percentage of donation Only: SFAC keeps a percentage (10%) of every dollar donated. Low risk offering for smaller nonprofits that cannot afford upfront payments.
- Upfront Fee + Precentage of donation: SFAC asks for upfront fee for each challenge/event + smaller % of every dollar donated. SFAC provides appropriate services based on fee paid by nonprofit.
Revenue from individuals would come in two forms -
- "Athletes" pay a registration fee to participate in a challenge/event: Majority of this fee comes in as revenue for SFAC while a small portion goes to the nonprofit. Athletes would be rewarded with a t-shirt or some other SFAC schwag
- "Donors" make a donation: A small percentage of every donation goes to SFAC. "Donors" would be given the option of covering the "cost of transaction"
The discussion was focussed towards maximizing revenue for SFAC while offering value through services and options for all the different SFAC customers. This sort of business advice is exactly what our company needs. And we're glad to be getting it from two individuals who're experts in web businesses and nonprofits - the two industry sectors that SFAC fits into!
Meet the Founders!
A lot of people think of a business as an entity implementing an idea or selling a product or providing a service. While these are certainly valid, the last few months of working on Sweat For A Cause has taught me that above all, a business is a team of people trying to meet a need. A business is nothing if there is no need for the idea, product or service. At the same time, a business is nothing without the team of people driving it ahead. So with this post, I'd like to give a voice to our team here at Sweat For A Cause. We created this video to introduce ourselves to the world. Hope you enjoy it!
Customer feedback is fun!
I spent a portion of last week following up on an important piece of advice from Week 1 of the program - Get Customer Feedback! It's a 4 step process -
1. Evaluating what answers you're looking for (based on your hypothesis)
2. Framing your questions to sound like a survey rather than solicitation
3. Calling/emailing customers (in our case nonprofits) to schedule interviews/meetings
4. Interview Fun!
The first 3 steps were fairly straightforward, so I'm going to dive into the most important step - #4, Interview Fun! It is definitely the funnest part of the process. I conducted 2 interviews in the week and collected valuable information that no research study, seminar or presentation would've allowed me to gather. I understood how small nonprofits function, their needs, their day-to-day struggles, what they like about Sweat For A Cause, what they dislike about it. All the information was personal, emotional and direct. It will go a long way towards structuring our company for this subset of our customers. Plus, chatting with a real live person who's answering questions through conversation sure beats having to go through intense statistical data. Above all, thanks to this process, I was able to reconnect with Sweat For A Cause's customers and get them excited about our company all over again!
Here's an early version of the feedback data - Nonprofit Feedback
We were excited to start the program by hearing from 5 accomplished entrepreneurs and speakers. Claudia Espinola, Valerie Kijewski, Sidd Goyal, Roman Jaquez & Frank Carvalho - Thank you for taking the time to come and speak to us. Your talks were educational, interactive and fun. Your advice was actionable and very well received. We look forward to incorporating your thoughts and ideas into our agenda as we seek to convert Sweat For A Cause from a small venture to a successful business. As the co-founder of Sweat For A Cause, I will be documenting my time in the Sandbox accelerator by summarizing the events of the week.
3 key takeaways (Startups)
1. Get out there
One of the mistakes that early entrepreneurs make is to not learn enough about their customers. Valerie and Sidd aptly pointed this out and also provided ideas on how to -
i. Reach customers
ii. Engage them through 1-on-1 meetings
iii. Learn about their needs and
iv. Understand the market
The mantra "Get out there!" resonated well with the group. Getting first-hand knowledge about the (potential) customer through face-to-face interactions is the key to testing the hypotheses upon which a business is built. It makes the conversation more intimate, the feedback more legitimate and the experience more worthwhile.
2. Test the hypothesis (We Believe That: ____)
A "We Believe That: ____" approach should be used to come up with hypotheses on which a solution/product is offered. The hypotheses must be as specific as possible and must be evaluated in order of risk. For Sweat For A Cause, the solution we are offering is founded on the following primary hypothesis:
"We believe that: small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations are looking for new ways to engage their network of donors while soliciting donations"
3. Know your customer
Customer interactions allow a business to clearly understand
i. the job the customer needs to get done
ii. the customer pains and gains involved in using currently available solutions and
iii. evalute pricing based on direct feedback
Having indepth knowledge of the customer's needs allows for a focused approach to the solution that a business offers.
Now to start testing Sweat For A Cause's hypotheses by getting out to our customers and get their feedback so we fully understand their needs.
Hello Sandbox folks! This is Sweatie and our team's first blog post. Last week our team embarked on a journey to turn our website into a legit product and our project into a viable business venture. Sweat For A Cause is one of 13 startups selected to participate in the inaugural Merrimack Valley Sandbox Accelerator. Stay tuned to more updates about the accelerator! For now, here’s a list of the companies in the program - Merrimack Valley Sandbox Accelerator Companies