Seven ways for Start-Ups to Monetize Business

monatize startups

Most startups emerge from entrepreneurs’ sheer passion to develop something that satisfies their creative inquisitiveness, and therefore they are often clueless as to how to monetize their products and services – or perhaps they end up developing something that is impossible to monetize. So now the question is how these creative geniuses can reap the benefits of their inventions, or what they must keep in mind from a monetization point of view. To answer this question I have compiled list of business models that can potentially be used by startups to monetize their business propositions.

1.SAAS Pay-As-You-Go or Monthly Subscription Model

Widely used in this cloud-based share economy, the self-service subscription model has become an instant hit among startups these days. Salesforce pioneered this model when they offered CRM services online to businesses without the need to install any software on their local server. These services are mainly pay-as-you-go, where users can avail themselves of services as per their usage (e.g. iTunes). However some business offer monthly subscriptions, where the consumer has to pay a fixed monthly cost for usage. (e.g. Hootsuite, & NetFlix)

2.Pay-per-click or Call to Action Display Advertising

This is one of the very old models and is mainly used by the publishing industry or businesses who have managed to build big communities. The idea is to build huge readership (e.g. Tech blogs like TechCrunch or web portal like Yahoo) for your content or create a community (like Facebook and LinkedIn) where users can engage with their friends, families, colleagues or like-minded people, and that helps service providers to understand their users’ intent and interest and to display advertisements and earn money on pay per click or call to action. (e.g. Facebook Ads)

3.eBay-Like Marketplace Model

This is an eBay model where businesses can facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers. This model can be complicated as the startup has to act as an intermediary, which means they have to make sure smooth of payment transactions, delivery, customer service, warranties and returns.

4.Affiliation Based on Price Comparison

Price comparison sites like GoCompare.com, Comparethemarket.com, Priceline.com and Kayak.com created a relatively new model among affiliate marketers where they compare a product’s price from multiple suppliers so that the consumer can choose the best one.

5.Data Licensing Model

In this API world, Data Licensing has become a very lucrative way to monetize your businesses. Usually these kinds of businesses have access to large public data from social networks and become aggregators like Gnip, DataSift and Rapportive.

6.Uber and WhatsApp like APP Economy

This is a reincarnation of the old client-server economy where users can download pieces of software (called Apps), especially on their smartphones and tablets, to play games , watch movies, go shopping etc. Just to give you glimpse of how big this economy is getting these days, recently, Uber (Taxi Booking App) and WhatsApp (direct messaging App) are valued around $17bn+ by their respective investor and buyer.

7.Amazon like Traditional Commerce

The old ecommerce still exists, where, like Amazon, businesses can sell products online. However due to a serge in smart phones and tablets, commerce is focusing very strong around the App economy.

The gist is that if you are building something you are passionate about, you must think of how you monetize your product from day one. It could be another Facebook, Twitter or call of duty game or eBay- or Amazon-like marketplace or retail stores or It may fell across several categories, as defined above, but the sooner you have an idea of how your venture will make money, the more likely is your chance of success.

Advertisements

Five quick tips for start-ups and entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship

Being involved with two start-ups and working through the nitty-gritty of daily operations to ensure that both ventures can survive another day makes me wonder if there is any light to end of tunnel, where I can reap the benefits of the problems we are solving and the pain of building solutions from scratch. This start-up life is a very vicious circle for any entrepreneur. We usually fall in to this out of sheer love of what we are doing and the gap we’ve identified in the market. However, taking an idea to a successful conclusion is altogether a different kettle of fish, and if we believe the stats over 95% of start-ups failed to see their fifth birthday!

In between the madness of taking these start-ups to the next stage, I scribble some notes whenever time permits, and that helped me to write my earlier blog post on highlighting critical factors to develop a product. For this one too, I have jotted down some additional factors or reconfirmed old factors that have become quite prominent and inspiring in my current start-ups’ journeys.

Luckily in this very social-media-oriented world, I can easily find and embed some references to reconsolidate my thoughts, which I have attached to each point to summarise my findings.

1 . Focus, Focus, and Focus

It may be an old cliché but the internet has made this world very small and resources have become readily available and inexpensive, which means that distractions are easy to come by, especially things are not going their way. For example, after the success of Eventbrite, we (i.e. tikbuzz.co.uk) could have been lured into becoming ticket suppliers rather than remaining a price comparison engine for the entertainment ticketing industry. But we stayed focussed to make sure that we develop a product that can help fans to find the best deals among the many already existing suppliers. Result: we are now one of the top three price comparison sites in the UK.

2. Create convenience for users

From Google to Facebook to Microsoft, mission statements categorically say that we want to make world better place and that basically means making things accessible and simple to use, and this is very true for start-ups too i.e. whenever, you envisage a product or service, always make sure that it will create convenience for your target audience. Like they say, build what you like to use, not what you’d like to leverage for a fat bank balance.

3. Learn to say no

Start-up life is all about long hours and doing things which you don’t do in a 9 to 5 corporate job. You might have to do all the jobs from receptionist to CEO, so there might be some distractions that you try to avoid in order to save some quality time for business development. For example, Dharmesh and Naval don’t take any business phone calls, communicating only by email, which means they can save lots of time on exchanging pleasantries or topics that they need to confirm via email anyway.

4. It’s never too late

I know, early successes from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and then Mark Zackenberg, all in their twenties or early thirties, have given an impression that youth is the predominant factor for successful entrepreneurship, but if we look at the following Infographic, there are many examples where success came later in life, so don’t give up until, you achieve your goal.

5. Set Short Terms Goals & The Journey is J Curve

Having a vision is very important, as this confirms where you want to take your company. However, when it comes to execution, the focus must be on achieving short term goals. Richard Branson summarized this really very well in his LinkedIn post!

Plus, Life is a roller coaster when you run a start-up; one day you reach the ecstasy of ultimate success and the next day you might get so depressed that you feel the world has come to an end. I have found a quote from my LinkedIn contact that summarises this journey. Have a read and be prepared to smile in the end when you reach to your ultimate aim of setting up a start-up. Good luck!
entrepreneurship journey

Eight Qualities that make a good Product Developer

Product Development Recently product development has become very intriguing career choice in computer science field. People like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Jeff Bezos have become household names and role models to aspiring entrepreneurs, and computing has, to a certain extent, replaced the oil and commodities sectors on Wall Street as a future investment bet. Many big universities have already introduced product development as a separate subject and unsurprisingly these courses are oversubscribed despite high fees.

However, having been involved in product development for both consumer and enterprise software and hardware, I am inclined to believe that product development cannot be learnt or taught over a relatively short time period as it is a continuously evolving process to find a solution for identified problems.

Based on personal experience, and after researching the thoughts and actions of many product developers from companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay etc., the following characteristics have identified that might help product developers to become successful!

1.Passion:

Passion is about determination – finishing the job with calmness and confidence; it is not shouting and swearing.

Passion is the first characteristic everyone expects from a product developer, but I am not sure if all developers understand what passion stands for; some confuse it with obsessive aggression, argumentativeness and impatience, which can have an adverse effect.

In my opinion, the passion means a determination to finish what you start, regardless of pain and hurdles, and the work must be carried out with confidence so that you can remain focused, productive and immune to failures.

2.Drive:

There is nothing wrong with being driven by money or fame

Hunter Walk wrote a very good article and he emphasized the three most important things for product development: love, greed and fear. I must admit that the second one, greed, left the most lasting impact on me, as he rightly mentioned that greed relating to becoming famous and/or rich can potentially bring a focused and non-egoistic approach to developing a product quickly. 

3.Proving yourself:

Use personal grudges to motivate  yourself.

I was attending an event and one of the most experienced entrepreneurs in that meeting mentioned that he wanted to develop successful products  because, ”I need to prove many people wrong and rather than talk the talk, I like to do walk the walk and make things happen.”

Another example is in Nick Bilton’s new book Hatching Twitter:  Square is the byproduct of proving those people wrong that pushed Jack Dorsey out of Twitter.

4.Standing away:

Don’t get emotionally attached and learn every day.

Emotional attachment to a product can become hurdle to its development. Just because you want to shape a certain product in a specific way does not mean that everyone will buy in to your idea. As a product developer, you must be fixated on the problem you are solving but not on the way you choose to solve it i.e. if your product ends up completely different to what you first envisaged but solves the problem, you are winner!

5.Aptitude over qualifications:

You don’t need to be an engineer to build product.

Companies from Google to Facebook emphasize that product developers must be engineers. However, there are many examples in the technical world where people from a non-technical background become product developers. Steve Jobs was art school drop put was not a technical guy; he was a salesman at Atari and had vision to shape computer hardware in certain way to make it accessible. Working with the technical skills of Steve Wozniak, he developed the first personal computer and the rest is history.

6.Control the whole development cycle

Product development is not just about developing a piece of software and/or hardware; it needs a holistic approach.

As well as doing the things you love, you have to manage people, processes and technology.  You might have to be a tester one day and project manager or blogger or legal representative another day.For example, a developed product must go through legal checks to ensure that no copyright is infringed. As the product developer you can’t shy away from taking that responsibility and you will need to engage with non-technical people to ensure the whole product is ready.

 7.Build an honest team:

Surround yourself with people who can criticize.

Build a team that can identify issues with your product, not “Yes boss” colleagues, who are either charmed with your enthusiasm or have no clue about your product and therefore fail to pinpoint any issues. For example, I suspect that Microsoft’s failure to identify the internet opportunity and Yahoo’s inability to convert their content to context, losing the race to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, is result of this misinformation to their main product developers.

8.Step out of your comfort zone

Product development is a very time consuming activity and comes with huge responsibility and leadership. However, for greater productivity, and to remain in touch with the ground zero reality, every product manager must take some time out from their routine life and must involve themselves in activities that force them to think outside the box, such as become a volunteer worker at a sports club or charity, go to new places and work with people whose skills don’t match yours.

The key is you must work at something which doesn’t fall into your usual professional, social or personal domain and challenges you to step out of your comfort zone and broaden your horizons. 

3 Factors that can Hinder Product Development for Startups

Converting and ideas to product a humongous tasks and need lot many soft skills, sacrifice and courage in addition to hard core technical skills. There are many Startups and entrepreneurs failed to reach at pinnacle of their work just because somewhere in between inception and implementation, they lost faith in idea, product or themselves and shelves the whole plan along with great opportunity to make something valuable to society.

The current stats suggest that only 5% Startups do survive in their third year and out of those only 2% become profitable in fifth year. However, it is very difficult to digest that out 100 only 2 ideas were worthy enough to survive!

After talking to some seasonal entrepreneurs and looking existing startup data, we have compiled a list of factors those might contribute into ultimate failure during startups lifecycle.

1. Someone will nick your idea

Never scare in revealing your ideas to friends, family, colleagues, VCs, Meet up group or any potential investors. The notion of someone can nick your idea is largely false as converting idea to real products needs lot more than just writing something on piece of paper or verbally discussing it.

Takeaway: Let people dissect up your idea at early as possible as their critique can help you to fill up gaps in your thinking and build a real product that can be monetised

2. Not riding against latest fads

Entrepreneurship is all about riding against the tide, if current trends suggest to go right, you shouldn’t hesitate to go left if you strongly believe that it works in your favour. The gist is if you will try to develop the product by following recent trends, you will more likely to fall, as many Startups try to ride on the popularity of Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter and ended up creating similar kind of social media platform and subsequently died.

Takeaway: Create a product that solves problem or filling any gap not just follow existing successful products targeting niche market in hope that you will also become part of history.

3. Giving yourself fix time frame for positive cash flow 

Many budding entrepreneurs gave themselves specific time period when start ventures. However in realty it is other way round i.e. in many cases it is almost 1000th day of your start up that company goes in positive cash flow with the exception of few companies.

In addition to, the Entrepreneur also stops because they are running out of cash or failed to evolve their product to cop up with market changes but these issues can be offset if planned beforehand! Such as don’t scare to work at Tesco Till or as Bar Tender or take part time consulting work if that can pay your bills and keep you going with product development.

Takeaway: Keep going until your product is monetised and don’t set a time period as that might hinder you eventually become successful.