Can I get some perspectives please.

Discussion in 'Growing and Managing a Business' started by MakingItHappen, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. MakingItHappen

    MakingItHappen
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    First let me start by saying that I am very enthused to find this forum. I joined another forum only to find that it was full of spam. The only legit posts were from people explaining that they had the next greatest idea and begging for capital.

    So, with that said, my questions:

    It is a customer to customer transaction fee model, so I feel like I need to have a fairly large marketing blitz before/as I launch the site. The ground-up website design is going to cost me at least 15k to 20k and that blows through the majority of my available capital. I'm considering launching it before I have the cash for the marketing (I have budgeted about 40k for this alongside some interesting free exposure ideas). I'd like opinions on whether I should wait until I advertise it to launch it, or let it set sail without being supported by serious marketing money.

    I really need a technology manager as I can't source that from my current talent pool. I have finance, accounting, and marketing skills and education so I feel fairly covered there but I need someone on the inside with tech skills. Where would I find such a person? I've considered contacting computer science graduate program professors and asking that they put me into contact with some of their talented students that may be interested. Could this be fruitful?

    Thanks for the advice!
     
  2. Mark T

    Mark T
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    Getting some contacts is a good step. Hmm. Have your tried posting online through ads about your need/hiring needs for a tech support? It may be a good idea to.
     
  3. mscott

    mscott
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    I think you might be served to look into some of the sites offering the services of Virtual Assistants....

    There are many folks who are well versed in the technology you need, and using a VA will be much more cost effective than "hiring" someone outright...
     
  4. MakingItHappen

    MakingItHappen
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    Great thoughts guys, thank you both.

    My budget is already set at just under 100k. I put some conservatism in most budgeted items, but I could see the need to augment the budget if I used a VA.

    Truth be told, however, I feel like I just need advisory services more than actual "grunt work" to be done as I'm outsourcing the web design. I wanted a tech guy on the inside to be able to say things like, "We will want the website to be programmed in PHP because it is easiest to integrate an Apple App with PHP and will save us money when we get that app designed." I have no idea if that is even the case, but that is the kind of thing I am looking for a tech guy to be able to advise me on. Even if it is someone who doesn't immediately know something offhand, I'd like someone who can identify the technological issues and know where to research for the answer. Basically, I want at least someone who knows what they don't know and what they need to find out.

    I'd ultimately like to bring someone on board, as in an equity holding partner. I'm sure the idea would have to be pitched, but I'd like to be able to find an entrepreneurial type with that skill set who likes my concept and wants to be a part of it based on it's potential alone. As an accountant, I had a lot of exposure to the IT guys as they were right down the hall. I don't believe I want to approach any of them with this, however. Yet, I also feel like I need someone like this on the management team to help pitch the concept to investors. So, is it even possible or reasonable to seek out someone with these skills who would be willing to become a (reliable) partner and is compensated with an equity share of the start up? If so, where is the best place to look?

    Alex: I see you recommend posting online. Is there any place that you recommend most based on what I am looking for?

    Thanks ladies and gents.
     
  5. ThirdSEO

    ThirdSEO
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    First, let me start by saying I like your user name. MakingItHappen. That's the right attitude to have when you're going in to something like this.

    When you say "customer to customer transactions fee model" are you referring to a profit model similar to what companies like PayPal have?

    I'd need to know more about your company to be able to advise you on whether or not to launch it in sync with a marketing or advertising campaign.

    To me, it sounds like what you're looking for is a CIO but I don't imagine too many executives with the skill set you need would be jumping on board just for an equity stake in your company unless you have a really innovative idea or approach to what you plan on doing. Nothing against you or your company, just bad timing. People with those skill sets are in high demand right now so you'll be competing with larger companies that want to acquire the same talent.

    I specialize in online marketing, information systems, entrepreneurship and innovation. Although management information systems is a topic that's closely related to what you need, I feel like you'd be better off with someone who has a heavier background in computer science or electrical engineering. Finding the "right" IT executive is one of the hardest things a business owner like yourself can do. As I'm sure you've already noticed, the majority of the people who have careers in the IT field aren't fit to be corporate executives. Being knowledgeable in IT, being personable and having an innovative entrepreneurial mindset generally don't go hand in hand. I feel like I could advise you to certain extent, but my primary area of expertise is Internet marketing.
     
  6. MakingItHappen

    MakingItHappen
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    Thank you ThirdSEO.

    I think, more precisely, that I'm looking for a fractional CIO. One thing that I plan on is scalability. I've budgeted capital needs of about 100 thousand. This budget includes that 40k for marketing and about 15k for working capital. The working capital is intended to cover variable cost for several months and not payment of salaries (VC should be under 2k/mo if no salaries are paid). Ideally, I'd like to be able to present the idea to someone skilled in information technology and if they liked it (and I liked them), I'd offer a 5 to 10% equity stake in exchange for their part time advisory and management services. If the business really took off, I'd have control of the board and be able to exchange the fractional CIO for a full time, and possibly more skilled, paid CIO. I'm gathering that this website may be a decent place to encounter such an individual, but I may be wrong. Either way, I'm confident their is someone out there skilled in this sort of thing that would be willing to contribute 10 to 15 hours a week for an equity stake in a business they thought promising. Again, I don't feel like I need a true, experienced executive, as much as someone with at least five or ten years of experience in this field.

    I feel like I could let the budget creep a little upwards and retain a part time consultant, but I also feel like I need someone with IT skills on the management team for the purpose of securing investors as I know that the management team will likely be a focal point when they conduct their due diligence.

    As to the business model:
    It is essentially an auction style website (though my market surveys are telling me to get away from the "auction" terminology), but with a significant twist on the worn out auction methods. Ninety percent of those I've surveyed thus far have been a fan of the concept and expressed interest in being a customer. Since the site will really be a meeting point of a buyer and seller, and the revenues will be driven by auction fees, I feel I need the marketing blitz. Given that there are so many places online to buy and sell things, I feel like the customer needs to be able to show up on day one and find activity from hundreds of other customers are the same time. I also have some plans for counter-party creation if turnout doesn't happen the way I expect, but I don't want to have to do that. I also have a couple of very innovative ways to drive traffic on day one, but I am more than open to any suggestions that you may have.

    Thanks for the advice.
     

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