Founder of 3 companies (agency, gaming, SaaS). Experienced in growing & managing teams. Tactical skills in sales processes, sales management, digital marketing, culture setting, and leadership development. Recent passion for product development & launched http://Populr.com (500 Startups Accelerated Company)
I've never seen one that does this... in fact, I've seen a few firms that have tried this and the VC's quickly labeled them as "just lead gen" with an unattractive, non-recurring business model.
Granted, you can keep generating performance - but it will arguably continue to cost you a lot of maintain the performance. Thus, the profit margin doesn't increase over time.
There is a firm that focuses on 'contract renewals' and their model is a % of contracts they get to renew. To support their business, they've built a platform that makes it easy to manage/track/renew contracts... so its performance based, but its also technology based with a lot of lock in.
I've *never* seen a VC invest in a creative agency. That is typically reserved for Private Equity firms or specialized banking... and its less about investment and more about buying part of your business (owner liquidation).
This is organization dependent, but I've run into multiple orgs that will approve a mid-level manager up to $5K/mo in recurring or a single expensive of $20K.
Exploring the CC path, there are spending limits often imposed that may not even match their spending parameters. For example, the CC may have a daily max of $5K. I've personally encountered scenarios where we have to bill the CC in consecutive days (with their approval) to stay under the spending limit.
Last, many orgs are starting to impose tighter restrictions on recurring expenses - so be aware of that. You can create one time charges around activation / implementation / customization / training / data migration / etc that will help you increase your revenue for that customer without having to bake in so much on the recur fee.
Think of it like Shipping & Handling... its an after thought for a lot of people after they decide the core product is worth the price you outlined.
Best benchmark: Get a paying customer who isn't in your inner circle of friends or family. If you can hit that benchmark, it means you've literally knocked out laundry list of other obstacles that many startup blogs will outline.
If you can't achieve that, then analyze why and there's where you put your effort. If you need money to hit that mark, then you better be a good pitch person or have previous track record - otherwise, you're fighting an uphill battle.
Success is about product market fit - solving a problem for a large enough body of customers that you can repeatedly reach & service.
That isn't industry specific, but you can see how tech makes that formula easier because it becomes easier to reach a large body of customers and to build a repeatable process.
As for your idea, lead gen businesses struggle to receive funding - but can be successful if you can self fund/launch. My advice is to try the process manually at first. Can you find a customer and then get their solar funded, doing all the steps manually while you document the process.
If you can pull that off and analyze how to repeat it, you're off to the races
Check out Gumroad.com and PayWithATweet.com - those types of tools should give you a good starting point to have a capture method before delivering a digital good.
As for the couponing / code system you reference, I know you can do it with Shopify and some of their digital delivery plugins - but it will require a fair amount of time to setup (12 hours)
I don't think they're dead - but changing communication trends have created new challenges. Calling someone on their cell phone is considered rude and people are increasingly ignoring their office phones. As for email, we are inundated with an ever increasing load in email - making cold emailing less and less effective.
But the deeper question is "Is Cold Prospecting Dead". To that, I give an emphatic 'no'. Seasoned sales professionals like to prattle on about how its relationships, referrals, and the art of the pitch/close... but only because they've forgotten how hard it is to get the machine running.
Aaron Ross' predictable revenue is a modified version of traditional prospecting. People have to become specialized, disciplined, and rely on tools to help you be more efficient.
But the underlying concept holds true: In absence of higher yielding lead sources, cold prospecting is superior to doing nothing.
If you believe that principal, then you do *everything* you can to grow sales that is *NOT* cold prospecting... but the key is to 'grow sales'. In absence of any more effective method/technique, get back on the phones and email and become a student of prospecting.
Maybe the better answer is "Cold Prospecting is Dead for those that don't learn how to do it in today's changing environment"
Pro Tip: Communicating through LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online channels is still cold prospecting. Setting up tools like Cadence to handle your prospecting emails is still cold emailing... just more evolved versions of them :)