Mentoring, markets and business models

Idealog is following some of the members of the eSprint programme at Massey University's ecentre as they develop and validate their business concepts. Today, Gail Matthew reflects on her progress so far.

I feel like I am finally making progress today, learning in which directions to travel!  In the last week, I discovered that the number of potential customers in NZ is around 550, which was considerably less than I had anticipated, but I guess it's great to find that out now.  Having just had a meeting with our programme manager Mike, I am now going to investigate the market size in other parts of the world to determine the best market to target. 

Great speaker this morning, taught us about the usefulness of social media, and how best to engage potential customers.  This may be very valuable when I need to begin to engage customers in remote markets.

I briefly met with Emma Clarke from Chameleon Marketing, who has some knowledge of developing software of this nature, and has thrown her hat in the ring and offered to help me out. Yeah, first mentor engaged!

I have made contact with two other mentors also. Mike Zeff from Microsoft has offered to help me answer a few questions around software development.  The big question here is do I develop software from the ground up, or take an already existing open source software and tailor it to the needs of the market and then on-sell it?

It was great to be able to bounce ideas off another person. It is a little too early to tell whether to develop from my product from scratch and I will need more information about what it is that I actually require in the finished product first. Mike also discussed other issues around intellectual property and who owns the final product, as the developer may lay a claim to it. This is something that may need to be discussed with an IP expert at the time, to ensure that I get this right!

A few action points for me to be working on:

  • Need to work out market size in Australia, UK, Canada, & USA, this will then enable a decision to be made around which market to target for a starting product.
  • Develop a list of features of what the finished product would do. After talking to potential users, this would then be scaled down to say, the top 10 functions that are must haves. This would form the basis of the minimum viable product.
  • Talk to some potential users in the local market, to begin to get a feel for what they would require or like to have. Get a "top 10" list off them.

Mike and I discussed most areas of the Business Model Canvas, which was great to get another perspective on. We talked about lots of other things, such as security and the need to host in the country of the market. This is probably not going to be an issue at this point, but something that we may have to face in the future.

Lots to think about!

Gail Matthew is participating in the ecentreSprint programme, a 12-week course held by Massey University's business incubator that helps entrepreneurs develop their business idea and model.

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