Go BIG or go Home to Momma

March 15, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

Grouporation = Group + Collaboration

thegroupvine logo

[Noah’s Note: This piece was written by Scott Hurff of the Groupvine. He is a great guy, loves pickles & cheese, looks like Jude Law and took the road less traveled which I am proud of him for, tear drop:)]

Background: I’ve been going on Groupvine full-time for almost a year. I even spent 6 months working on it within a venture capital firm. After looking at the market and getting feedback, I’ve decided that the higher ed group market isn’t the most attractive to go after for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, Groupvine is moving to “side business” status.

Problem: I don’t know which target market(s) to pursue. And I don’t have much experience running a “real” business on the side while working full-time elsewhere.

Question: First, what markets should we look at instead? SMBs? Professional networking groups? Startups? Hobby clubs?

Second, how should I go about developing and dedicating resources (time, money, etc.) to continuing to build Groupvine while I take on another position?

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10 responses to “Go BIG or go Home to Momma

  1. AdamD Reply

    I understand the following isn’t all that helpful, but if there’s an answer to this question, it might help others in answering.

    Why change focus if you are going to work full-time? Do you have time to look into a new market?

  2. brbreslin Reply

    dude. i think there are tons of applications for this out there. i had honestly never heard of this before. but it would be perfect for things like refreshingcities.org or small groups people need to organize.

  3. Scott Hurff Reply

    Thanks Noah 🙂

    Hey Adam, great question.

    So I’ve spent about a year both getting to know and playing in the higher ed space. At the same time I’ve had discussions with tons of people that embody different markets.

    I’m convinced there are people and groups in other markets that have more acute needs and are willing to pay for something they value. In the college market, I’ve found it difficult, time-consuming and cumbersome to get people to pay for something even if they value it in this space.

    So why realign now? Both myself and GV are at a crossroads, and this is the perfect time to realign.

  4. Joe Budde Reply

    In terms of resources to expend on the site: Why not get a group of people who are interested in getting involved developing groupvine, basically a way more active advisory board… and have full time jobs on the side… perhaps use the software to run this project group.

    Reward helpful members in the group with cash bonuses or equity or something… perhaps a Wii, I know I want one.

    I would be more than willing to help out and push it to the next level for some halfway legit start-up experience.

  5. AdamD Reply

    It could be a matter of who you are focusing on. Perhaps selling school-wide licenses (white label or otherwise) might be easier than by-the-club.

    I agree it’s probably tough to get students to pay for anything. Look to other ways to monetize, but still give them the ability to use your complete product. Having their school pay is one option. Also, advertising or affiliate programs could pay for it, if you find the right ones.

  6. Scott Hurff Reply

    I did go and try to sell school-wide licenses — what I ran into was the fact that they wanted all sorts of highly-specific “higher-ed add-ons” like co-curricular transcripts, integration with Blackboard and whatever — something that would pigeonhole us too much, I think.

    Also, it’s expensive as anything to outfit a SAAS such as Groupvine to talk to ERP systems like that, from my research.

    I agree with your second point — what are the indirect ways we can create cashflow while adding value? Maybe the straight subscription fees aren’t it. Maybe it’s being done too much.

    Maybe we could do something a la Peanut Labs’ approach. (www.peanutlabs.com)

  7. Scott Hurff Reply

    We’re also dealing with the issue of finding as close to full-time programming talent as we can. Cash is an issue.

    So I pose another question — anybody know good resources or, even better, great PEOPLE to talk to about getting involved in an engineering role?

    Maybe this could be alleviated by your point, Joe Budde (by the way, Joe and are from the same hometowns and went to middle / high school together).

  8. Berry Reply

    Hey buddy- I also think a white label solution seems like “a” way to go… there are others.

    You are right that you can’t make money from people (college studends) who don’t have it… not on something they “need” instead of a want.

    The biggest ones don’t require much programming- first, change your system to offer a “freemium” service. Then offer more services for more money.

    Right now I don’t see anywhere where you are charging a fee. You need to make that clear somewhere on your “signup” page. “Sign up for free” keep that but make it clear that up there are packages they can subscribe to.

    Don’t go the ads route… charge a fee… there is not too much susbcription based stuff… there is too little of it. Just remember the power of multiplication and don’t try to charge too much– if you have a $4.95 a month package and get a thousand groups subsrcibing you may be able to quit your new job.

    Once you have your packages and prices set up (and your payment system) then use GOOGLE and Yahoo and other ad networks to drive the traffic… bid VERY low on your keywords… you don’t want to be at the top of the GOOGLE list… people are shoppers and they don’t buy at the first place they shop (the most expensive place to be on GOOGLE)…. you want someone who has clicked to the second page or has at least scrolled to the bottom.

    As for the markets to reach- hum… who works in groups that are not located together? AND MAKE MONEY DOING IT… I think political groups are good to target (you are)– even in super small local races…
    who else… I don’t know- but I want to help you make a living from this however I can… just get in touch with me. You’ve worked to hard to fold it up.