Suresh VenkateswaranFounder@Lean Foundry, Product & Tech Advisor
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Entrepreneur, Co-founder Hospitality SaaS startup, Product & Strategy expert in Fintech, Mobile, Marketplaces, Omni-channel Commerce & SaaS platforms. Product & Strategy consultant for multiple early stage/venture funded startups. Connect with me for quick consultation



Recent Answers


In regard to targeting business professionals there are platforms you can look at to see how they operate. Most recent one that comes to mind is Lynda.com that was acquired and integrated into LinkedIn. Currently, LinkedIn has a subscription model that starts off free for a month.

For a personalized online learning platform, I am assuming you might be providing customized learning modules that are specific to the business user's profile. Given that, a subscription model would serve best for continued access and engagement with your platform. These are business professionals that value continued access to content from the platform for their ongoing learning & development.

At the same time, for specific programs that are time bound a program based fee can also make sense. Here you target business professionals that are interested in a specific learning module/program.

The pricing can vary based on the user type/learning module. I currently advise a few startups in the ed tech space and we have explored very interesting opportunities that are being monetized. I would be happy to speak further on this topic and learn about your unique platform offering and share specific guidance.


Ecommerce is increasingly becoming a means for brick and mortar businesses to target customers via a different channel (online or mobile). It provides better reach and access to different segment of customers.

At the same time it depends on the kind of product or services offered by these businesses. If they are predominantly localized services/products then ecommerce offers alternate channel but not always the case.

From a benefits Standpoint you can highlight
- Access to additional customer segments (online /mobile)
- Provide for an omni channel experience (order online & pickup in store)
- drive additional foot traffic into stores through online promotions / marketing / loyalty campaigns etc

Happy to give you further guidance based on your unique location/market. Feel free to reach out over a call. I have had the opportunity to build several ecommerce and mobile/omni channel experiences.


As an entrepreneur who has traversed similar situations I understand your feelings around whether one should take funding or delay until later.

The good part as I understand you are at a point where the startup is ready to launch an MVP, identified market entry segments. But then again, it is too early to predict how the market will receive your MVP/Product, how difficult it would be to get customers, convert and grow.

Whatever your product/service is, it seems to have garnered interest enough to get a decent seed that can prove valuable to stay in business & especially grow.

If you are sure to begin making revenue that will keep the company afloat or have enough of your own funds to continue bootstrapping, then go for it. If that isn't the case it might be worthwhile exploring the investment for strategic reasons too besides growth. Investors that are vested, will also help make introductions, forge partnerships and promote your company. You will also be able to attract good talent once you have backing from investors.

Good luck with the MVP and as you explore these critical decisions.

cheers



Per my knowledge the middle east & Saudi Arabia offers a great market for user cars. People are passionate about driving the latest & trendy cars.

From your description above, you have access to a captive & engaged audience that you can market this platform to. Used card Online dealerships are also picking up in North America. Checkout platforms such as www.beepi.com & www.truecar.com. They have been able to prove the online model and also successfully raise funding.

Key ingredients for their success is they don't just serve as a portal for used cards such as auto trader, cars.com etc, instead they get involved in the buying & exchange of the used cars themselves. Thus ensuring they provide a great user experience for the buyers & sellers, at the same time there is opportunity to make money during the entire process.

With used cars being regularly sold & exchanged in Saudi Arabia, this seems like a strong opportunity. You could see better success by looking at the opportunity to solve the problem end to end instead of just serving as a lead-generation website.

I have complete experience in launching marketplaces similar to this. Happy to engage further.

good luck!


A SF based Call center/Answering Service platform - www.Talkdesk.com let's you configure rules to that meet your specific needs.

Additionally, the platform integrates with most popular CRM, HelpDesk, Contact list systems to provide a comprehensive and interoperable solution.

Good luck.

Cheers


True, for a marketplace platform to be successful, you will need healthy growth of both the consumers & sellers of a service/product.

A good thing is after eBay established itself, there have been several platforms that have been able to successfully grow marketplace platforms - such as Uber/Lyft, ODesk (now Upwork), Etsy, AirBnB. So you can compare and see how they were successful.

For most of the platforms it is usually key to identify the 'demand' & 'supply' side of the marketplace. Make sure there are sufficient listings/service providers for the 'supply' side of the marketplace before you begin targeting or sourcing the 'demand' side.

In the case of Uber it was 'drivers', ODesk - 'freelancers', Etsy - 'Sellers/products'. Once you have sufficient listings on the 'supply' side, then demand will automatically pick up.

Here are a few strategies to help grow the marketplace
- make sure the quality of the listings and the users are high. You should vet your users as they go through the sign up process
- The marketplace should offer a uniquely competitive solution that both type of users find valuable
- Provide customer support and seek feedback from users to ensure you can improve the marketplace experience

Again there are several more areas that should be focused on as the marketplace grows such as Payments, Dispute Resolution etc. I have had the opportunity to build marketplaces from groundup, and would be happy to review your marketplace offering and provide feedback. Feel free to reach out.

cheers


HootSuite, Bufferapp, SproutSocial are all platforms that help you engage, track progress & post frequently to most social platforms including Twitter.

SocialRank: https://www.socialrank.com/ is a platform to track your followers, engage & find new followers. It has been receiving rave reviews for the deep insights provided for Twitter & Instagram followers


There are multiple channels through which you can drive traffic to your website. Facebook & Etsy are only a couple, but customer today frequent a lot more web destinations.

Additionally, as you begin developing your website I would be happy to advise you on suitable platforms, required capabilities for the website - payments, customer support, CRM, marketing & analytics to start with. Feel free to reach out.

I would take care of the domain name first as some of them already suggested. Cheers


I have a deep passion for great user experiences & have launched multiple b2b & b2c cloud based/mobile products. I would be happy to connect and review your online platform and provide feedback.

Feel free to reach out.


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