This week’s question: Who will buy our news product?

Jun 24 2013

Last week I was confused.

We had a product. Well, an idea for a product. It’s still what we’re focusing on for our Summer Startup project: a mobile application that would make an English-language news broadcast available in Spanish for Latinos in this community. That idea was crystal-clear to me, but there was another important component that needed to be hashed out. Who was actually going to pay us for this?

I make no buts about it. I’m no business major, nor have I ever really been involved in any type of sales. Well, besides a few summer lemonade stands where I definitely undercharged thirsty neighbors at 25 cents a cup, or the awful memories of having to sweet talk people when selling Girl Scout Cookies door-to-door. It still gives me the shudders to think of it.

In those cases, knowing who my customers were was easy. It was pre-defined by those who had gone before me and tested their market.

But we’re dealing with a completely different situation here. We’re going where no man has gone before, so to speak. This application is unique for the area that we’re in, and that’s both a blessing and a curse. It means that we have a good idea, but that there’s so many facets of it that we have to research and doublecheck everything. And when I say everything, I mean it. This week my Google queries have ranged from The Weather Channel to a list of every single Spanish-language radio station in the area.

Based on what our research has told us, we’ve been trying to solidify exactly who our market is, who we’re selling this product to, and why they would (hopefully) to purchase it from us. We bounced back and forth between selling directly to our users, to broadcasters or to advertisers, since those were the main markets we identified as potential revenue providers.

After lots of head scratching and a few demands for visual brainstorming (that’s the way my brain works, can’t help it), we decided on targeting broadcasters. Selling to them would mean that we would have less control over the content loaded onto our application, but that we wouldn’t have to deal with selling to advertisers. We also would just provide the translators to translate the broadcast content and manage the application. This option was much simpler than the alternative we considered, which would lead us down the path of purchasing broadcasters’ content and selling advertising ourselves. This avenue presented much higher startup costs, but did have the allure of much higher profits in the end.

Regardless of how much money we could make, at the end of it all, I’m just glad we’re on the same page. This week showed me how essential communication was to keeping everyone on task and up-to-date on our product. After several meetings of talking around and around in circles, we realized that we all had different ideas about what the application would include. A quick check-in revealed that we wanted to take one of the ideas and run in another direction with it.

So this week we came up with an idea for a third application. It’s too bad Telemundo and the Weather Channel came to the same conclusion about a need for a Spanish-language weather app in May of this year, but as their application won’t come out until July, we’re going to see if we can beat them to it.

The one advantage we do have over them is, we know who our customers are and how to get them.

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