Founder + CEO of Startups.com - Clarity.fm, Launchrock, Zirtual, Fundable and Zana
This is actually kind of a funny question to answer on Clarity. Not sure if you're aware, but we (Startups.co) actually own Clarity, Launchrock, and of course, Zirtual!
Zirtual has an amazing product and great people. The company ran into problems around how it managed utilization of folks, which is common among highly staffed businesses.
There wasn't anything "broken" with Zirtual as a business, which is why we acquired it. It's a great company, just like Clarity which we also purchased this year.
If you have particular questions about the level of service or the company behind it, you can simply ask me directly - firstname.lastname@example.org. I can give you any kind of insight that you'd like. But don't worry about the service - we have great people and we're a happy, profitable, growing company.
As you may know, we acquired Clarity recently and have done numerous acquisitions at Startups.co so we spend a lot of time thinking about this. I've also personally been acquired a few times so I've been on both sides.
With that said I think the earlier comment about how much value you can bring to the acquirer is always a great place to start.
For example, if your company had $100k in sales per year, no reasonable multiple of that is going to get you into a meaningful acquisition price. So scratch that.
Instead - try to determine what kind of revenue the acquirer might generate in the first and second year post acquisition. That at least gives you a starting point.
What you can't do is start thinking about what Instagram sold for. None of that type of silly math matters. Those are one of conditions where a company is in such hot demand is so singular in it's value (no one else was that big at that time in that particular segment) that they play by entirely different rules.
What's nice about the 'what value can we bring' discussion is that it shows that you are thinking about what's in it for them, not just what's in it for you.
I spent 10 years building a digital agency so I've got some experience with client acquisition.
The short answer is - client work leads to more work. One way to start the pipeline going is to pick up small jobs from any number of project sites and to build from there. Chances are if I have a small project I'm working on, there's more work to be had. Most big engagements start with a small project.
If you give me some ideas of what you've tried in the past perhaps I can refine the approach a bit. Happy to help.
I like the fact that you've considered the reward system for sharing, although I'm not sure why it would have to be one or the other.
There's really no downside to offering share functionality but I've seen many cases where it's just an afterthought that's there if someone wants it, but doesn't really offer any incentive to do so.
I like it when people prompt sharing with some of the work already done, such as "Tweet this: Here's 140 Characters already setup for you" (my words). It provides some context for what you'll be sharing, and if you're active on Twitter, just does a nice job of teeing up the reward (feeding your Twitter feed beast).
On the referral ID side, how about offering some sort of immediate benefit just by making their first share? Like offering $5 credits (I'm making up a number) just for sharing. Sure, you'll get some people that take advantage of the system, but you'll also get people actually helping share the word.
Happy to answer more questions around specifics.
There is often the challenge of simply spending too little to get effective feedback, but at $10k that's often a number I've seen that starts to make a difference. Are you spending this all on Google Adwords?
The first number to consider is 0. No sales on $10k is highly indicative. But even a couple sales (let's say you had a $50 product) is also pretty bad from a ratio standpoint. Can you share how much revenue you've generated from $10k in spend?
There's a fine line between persistence and simply being an annoyance, however I've seen some great examples of people balancing these properly.
Usually this comes with the ability to be very human and personal. One way I've seen this done is with old school hand written letters. On a few occasions over the past few years I've had a vendor reach out to me with a hand written letter. You just don't see them anymore, so they really stand out.
Within the context of the letter I'd consider making the ask for "feedback", not for the work itself. I would explain your situation very personally around how and why you are seeking feedback, and also make it very clear that you respect their time and understand that no answer is OK too.
There isn't a 100% solution that always works. But making it short and personal could be a nice touch.
I've offered deferred compensation, because often the issue isn't whether you can pay cash *ever*, it's a matter of whether you can pay cash *now*.
The way to structure that is to offer cash payments due at a time in the future (like every month, quarter) that can be converted to stock if they aren't paid out.
The reason I prefer this is because if cash is available, I prefer to pay it in any amount, even if if reduces the stock payout only a bit.
I like your direct approach to targeting your first customers. That said, dropping off food is dangerous if you don't have a really good relationship with the businesses already, for obvious reasons.
What would you say is particularly "special" about your cookies? I ask because maybe I can help you come up with some ways to get some more traction out of your efforts.
I would focus on the problem you solve more than the "business model" per se. Unless you're talking specifically about how to make money.
The problem with most startups is that they don't solve an actual specific problem. It's a mobile app for example that does something, but doesn't really address a serious need. It just does something that isn't already being done.
If you add some more color to your question I'd be happy to add some more color to the answer ;)