Hooked on new ventures. Startup founder, team member, coach, advisor and mentor. Typical focus: SaaS, social, commercializing new tech (soft & hard). Big picture with a hands-on, get-it-done attitude. Developed/launched nearly 100 new products and services.
Your site looks great and the product seems substantial and well thought out. However, as you indicated, finding out if there is a sweet spot for what you do is not always easy. Take a step back and, at a generic level, define what your company is really good at and what forms the backbone of how you deliver value. Is this the complete set of things that you need to be good at to win in the business as you have defined it?
Next, define your value proposition for each of your key constituents (schools, tutors, tutees) along with the criteria they use to evaluate the offering's attractiveness to them. Define personas and use cases within each constituent group to identify who you are best positioned to satisfy. For each constituent, list the positive, negative and puzzling things you have heard in their feedback or observed in their actions.
Doing this for each of your current and past target market initiatives (B2C and B2B) may help you develop new insights. What is different from your original hypotheses? When you look at key metrics or assumptions in your model, are there any in which small improvements could lead to significantly better performance (traffic, referrals, trial, conversion, time to fulfill, repeat usage, etc)? What else might you do to improve performance at the key leverage points? What questions should you be asking to gain further insight on how to move the needle?
Two-sided P2P marketplaces are fundamentally challenging. In your case, you need to generate enough supply and demand to satisfy both tutors and tutees. A B2B sponsorship model has the potential to address this quickly and effectively if they actively embrace it and feel compelled to make it work. Are your school customers being proactive in their support for your platform? Are they referring your solution or generating enough awareness to interest and engage a high proportion of potential tutors and tutees? Are you meeting the schools' expectations and are they seeing a positive ROI? If you are losing tutors and/or tutees to some form of direct or indirect competition, what are the implications for your business (features, pricing, promotion, awareness, expectations, reducing "friction," etc.)?
It would be helpful to know what feedback and insights you have received directly from participants. What has this told you about your (real or perceived) ability to meet expectations, overcome barriers to use, generate referrals and drive repeat/retention?
At the end of the day, if you feel you need to look for opportunities to "pivot" the business, start by referring back to the core strengths that I mentioned in the first paragraph. Are there other applications and markets where you could provide value by redeploying a version of your platform and leveraging these core strengths?
I'd be happy to talk through any and all of the above and would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your team and business.
Is it new?
To find out if the idea is really new, be thorough in your online search. Search base on descriptions of the the problems it solves, how it is used and the benefits. You should also search Google Patents or the USPTO.gov site to look for existing patents in this area.
Does it need to be new?
"New" is nice, but in a rapidly developing market space like most IoT applications, there may be a lot of room for "better" or "improved." If there is competition, find out how well it is being adapted and used; you may still uncover new opportunities.
Is it feasible?
This is clearly a loaded question. To determine market feasibility, you will have to answer a number of individual questions, including:
- Will the product address a real problem and deliver tangible benefits
- Can you make a product that performs the way you want it to?
- Will anyone want it if you do? Why?
- How many of them are there and who are they?
- Can you market it at a price they will be willing to pay for it?
- How can you reach and sell to them?
- Do they know they want this, or will you need to educate them?
- What obstacles will you need to overcome to make a sale?
- What will compete with this purchase, both directly (other products) and indirectly (other ways to solve the problem)?
I hope that helps. I have been doing a lot of work in the IOT space and would be happy to walk you through a process to help you answer your question.