Innovation Product Manager at The Home Depot - yes, it's as crazy as it sounds... Think taxis before Uber. Last company sold for $1.65Bn. Friend and mentor to many startup founders. Investor. I love applying human psychology and game mechanics to people, products, and processes.
Great product value propositions ALWAYS start with the customer problem being solved, specific benefits, and the ideal customer.
In a right-side-up world, you would have begun your product development using this same framework. What is the <core problem> my <target customer segment> is experiencing, and how do we <solve> it <better than anyone> else? If you've done that, then writing out a value prop is essentially putting words around what you've built.
If you didn't start that way, and now you're attempting to shoehorn a value prop back onto an already created product, then you'll need to unpack your product and discover the answers to the elements above. Start with what is the core problem we fixed? Who is our ideal market / customer? Etc.
Be VERY careful to: avoid buzzwords, avoid droning on and on, never list features, don't speak from your perspective, and be sure to use language your target audience would use.
Your value prop, in it's essence, should be similar to something your ideal customer would say about themselves. Ex: I feel like a spreadsheet superhero when I use Airtable! I hope my boss doesn't find out how easy this is. ;^P
Some great resources for figuring out your value prop messaging:
I've been a PM or founder for over two decades. If you want help with your value proposition, unpacking your product to reverse engineer one, or you're just starting out and want to get it right from day one then give me a call. I'm happy to help!
There are some good responses here. Try not to take money yet. It's subjective. Make sure you are taking money from someone committed to your space.
But, at the end of the day, if you plan to raise capital and you've already got people willing to bet on you, then take the money. Any amount.
Newer founders very often get hung up on valuations and dreamy future exits in the billions. If you secured $50-100k now, demonstrated traction, and then either raised a later seed/small series A, then you're on your way. Or, even better, you get acquired at around $2M. It's not newsworthy, but you just pulled a 20X+ return, proved you're a worthy founder, and can move on to the next startup idea.
The big takeaway: don't get hung up on value at this point.
Second takeaway: take your emotions out of it (and any big $$ fantasies). Find what makes good business sense and take a shot.
I've raised money from family, angels, VC's, you name it. I've been through acquisitions (and the *many* talks that didn't end up in acquisitions). And I'm an investor - so I see it from both sides. If you want to jump on a call and talk it through, just let me know.
Ask your parents.
I know that sounds glib, but honestly in today's rich technology access landscape you should be able to build a prototype of anything for free or at least under $50. In many cases you don't even need to know how to code.
Here are some examples:
SiteGround - Wordpress hosting plan: $3.95/mo
Install Wordpress: Free
Web template: Free (or spend a few bucks at Elegant Themes - I love them)
Add WP tools: Free mostly, some cost a tiny bit
Need a DB for CRM, planning, scheduling, other? You don't even need to know how to create one or connect it. Airtable.
I could go on and on. Chatbots, marketing tools, selling/ecom, webinar tools, etc.
Nobody but your mother will pay you to do what anyone else with a spoonful of hustle will do on their own.
That said, once you do have a prototype THEN you have something that could be interesting to angel or seed level VC investors. And we can really get into how to succeed at that.
If you have more questions, let's setup a call. I've built a LOT of prototypes. I've built and run 3 startups. I mentor founders almost every day of the week. I can help.
The simple answer is yes. But, you'll have to compete with what I would say is the current leader in this space - Rob May's Inside AI. https://inside.com/ai
Rob is a leader in the space, he runs an AI business, and pulls together thought provoking articles and links. There is a free, ad-supported, version and a paid version.
The best way to start any newsletter is to just start. Then remember some key things:
1) Always be building your email list. You must own this part!
2) Grow your readership by also publishing in other places like Medium, LinkedIn, and other tech / AI pubs. Drive them back to your original site and get signups.
3) Promote everywhere and always on social media.
If you're hoping to remain ad-free, then you'll need to start with a free newsletter to grow membership. It acts as an onramp to the paid version as well. Plan out how you want to make the paid offering better. Does it include in-depth reports, unique interviews, survey results, video or webinar content, or..?
I read Rob's report every time. I'd check yours out as well. If it has an interesting stance- a take on the industry -then you'd keep me coming back, too.
My published posts average tens of thousands of views each week, and have been Top 20 posts on publications like Startups.co. If you want to grow your newsletter, I can help. Let's setup a call to follow-up.
Hi. This one is easy to answer, but hard to solve. If you want to have live content in a mobile app that is updated over the Internet (ex: via the cloud), then you can *only* house that content on servers INSIDE China.
I have a lot of experience trying to support everything from mobile games to major enterprise applications in China. The country has very tight restrictions on the web. There are many well-known (top chart) US apps that are essentially blank or useless in China because of this.
If you want to sell apps that access data in China, then buy server time in China to house that data. Period.
Additionally, let's talk app stores and downloads. You can easily offer your apps for download on iTunes China immediately. But there is no Google Play store in China (see data reasons above.) When it comes to Android, there are hundreds of tiny to huge app stores in China. Most require you to have a presence (an address) in China to register for the store. Before you decide on an app store, you may first want to explore messaging apps.
Messaging apps like WeChat, QQ, etc. are the number 1 source of app downloads in China. They are like FB Messanger on massive steroids. If you're going to go to all the trouble of putting your data in China, then you should probably build your app to be used in / through / or via a messaging app.
Let me know if you want to talk live in more depth about this. The opportunity is enormous. You just have to be willing to overcome the initial barriers.
I've been through multiple acquisitions in my career, and navigated them for other founders as well.
Your scenario is not uncommon. There are many issues that affect an acquisition. The biggest one, assuming most elements look positive, is timing for the acquirers.
In your landscape of SaaS travel businesses there are always big players who might be (1) able to buy you, (2) willing to buy you, and (3) need to buy you. But...they may have a 3rd party service that works well and they don't feel a need to own more proprietary software - there's no measurable gain to them for doing so. They may want to buy a company like yours, but feel there are other cheaper/better/fill-in-reason options. And of course the killer: they just acquired some other company with enough similar features that it now doesn't make sense to buy you, too.
You mention needing to exit for personal reasons. This may also be playing into your trouble on two counts. First, this puts you at a disadvantage when negotiating; you could be "playing scared". Second, when a large company acquires another company they fully expect the founders, execs, and typically the bulk of all employees to stay on for 1 to 3 years. This provides transition, continuity, and often brings an entrepreneurial boost back into the "mother ship".
If any of those things is clouding the conversation, then you will need to evaluate that with your team. Speaking of your team, if you all are really stuck on a certain acquisition number then that can also spoil things. You say you "need" to exit. So if that's true, then accept any number that gets you to break-even. A number larger than that is gravy. Waiting on your dream number is, in this case, not advisable.
I'm happy to jump on a call to talk specifics and figure out how to plan your way forward with you.