Specializing in technology B2B, revenue models, business generation, traction, business models. I'm a closer. I turn leads into revenue. Former VP, Sales at Gun.io where I oversaw dozens of product and software teams and ran the sales organization. I'm currently the host of Gun.io's The Frontier Podcast, a high-frequency biz dev vehicle generating a 5x ROI.
I actually did this business. The short answer is the vendor landscape is super-varied, and that means you have a ton of different companies to deal with, each of whom tends to be small and doesn't have a very good vendor support operation. Since we didn't want to carry inventory we did drop shipping, but the margins were not ideal. It was possible, but the realities of the business, at least several years ago, were difficult operationally. I could talk to you in detail about it if you like.
If you're interested in a different viewpoint all together, I would be able to tell you about how we sell Scrum without Waterfall. We don't ever have to fixed-bid anything. I generally find that fixed-bid is a solid way to lose your shirt.
You're going to want a comprehensive marketing strategy that determines where your likely customers spend their time online and you'll want to focus on one to two channels that you will work to their maximum benefit until you feel they are saturated. You probably also want to think about enabling technologies that will allow you to scale your inputs so you don't have to wear yourself out services clients while your business development suffers. There are a lot of "it depends" in your question. It's not enough to "find" if you don't have an engagement strategy of what you will do when you find them. I'd be happy to talk through this with you and point you in the right direction. All of my work is related to B2B sales of this nature.
I almost always turn to Upwork for work like this and I focus on the Philippines. Excellent workforce, good attitudes, and effective results if you screen well. Can't beat the cost, either. Don't expect to get good results from the lowest priced, but I have had superb folks at $15/hour.
At Gun.io we're about to replace our legacy home-grown system for these items with Hubspot. So far we are happy with it. It doesn't do _everything_ but it does enough and it's easy enough to use for non-technical staff. We got it up and running with about a month of dedicated work, mostly on developing the content.
I can speak in general to the marketplace business model (re: Gun.io -- we have 20,000+ on the expert side) and tell you that the conventional wisdom in a marketplace model is that you must first subsidize the supply side of the market, which is then used to attract the demand side. Think of a shopping mall as a standard example: must have stores before shoppers, but how do you overcome the chicken/egg? The answer is you have to get big box stores to "anchor" the model and then get smaller stores to fill in the gaps. All of that must be done first, by demonstrating to those stores who you WILL attract market demand after you have them in place via your marketing efforts to the demand side.
Just being on Clarity I have received probably a dozen requests to join another "experts" marketplace. That's not going to cut it because it's obviously a copycat model. The key is going to be targeted outreach whereby the experts see a legit way to grow their businesses and their brands by being involved.
I run services at Gun.io, and as such I spend most of my time on the phone with businesses who are doing software projects. Though we don't tend to do a lot of MVPs (just because of the budget hurdles you identify), I speak to a lot of entrepreneurs in your position. The main thing you want to ask yourself is how comfortable do you feel managing the outsourced partner to actually do what you need them to do. Be wary of the bait-and-switch where the guy on the phone seems amazing and then dishes you off to the lower level people who can't communicate and don't have a clue what you are trying to build. I see this all the time. I'm not going to say there aren't amazing engineers and shops everywhere in the world (there are). However, you have to be aware that 80% (generally) are not very good. The same 20% exists everywhere, and even with good prices because of geographic arbitrage, but you need to search for them.
If you really need to go offshore I'd check Eastern EU, Russia, Ukraine, and strong recommendation for Costa Rica and other Central/South American countries. Nearshoring is awesome because they are on the same timezone. You can actually work with them instead of trying to Skype in the middle of the night (assuming you are US).
There's a huge proliferation of shops who "specialize" in doing MVPs for startups. I'm sure 20% of them are awesome, and the same 80% are not, so you really need to do your diligence. I speak to people every single day who have blown their entire budget on $30/hour shops and on $300/hour shops. There seems to be an equal number of lousy performers at every level.
Also, be careful to understand that an hourly rate as a comparison assumes productivity of an hour is the same for everyone, which is clearly nuts. I also have some issues with the economic incentives that are created by fixed bids and other agency models. Not to say anyone of these things are bad in their own right, but when you study the models it's clear that certain incentives are built in and you need to be armed with those things in mind when searching and negotiating.
If you want an impartial subjective party to help you choose I'd be happy to consult with you.
You can operate your business as a business unit under the corporation through a DBA. There is nothing stopping you from doing that. You might want to check your insurance policy to make sure you are covered but there are no business form issues that I'm aware of that would stop you from doing this. I run several businesses under one LLC with DBAs.
I'm guessing this is a software product geared toward managing the day to day business of these centers?
I'm not sure if you want to enhance the product or if you are looking to scale your marketing and sales. I think it's the latter of the two.
Are you aware of your competitors and what learning centers are using them? Specifically what chains or franchises?
I would want to know how many independent learning centers there are as opposed to the larger chains and franchises who might make group buying decisions.
It's hard to answer the question in more detail without some additional information. I'd be happy to do a call to help you sort this out.